Biological Name:

Echinochloa spp. (Smutgrass)

Natural Habitat:

Smutgrass: This plant is native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and open woods.


Smutgrass also known as Sporobolus is a plant that is native to grassland and prairie regions of North America. It is an annual grass that can grow up to three feet tall and it has elongated leaves and small inconspicuous flowers that are typically green or yellow in color. The plant is known for its ability to produce large amounts of smut which can cause plant diseases and it is often found in areas with poor soil fertility.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What will kill Smutgrass?
A: Chemical control of smutgrass includes applying hexazinone at 0.5–1.0 lb/acre (Velpar/Tide Hexazinone at 1–2 qt/acre; Velossa at 0.84–1.67 qt/acre) to small and giant smutgrass. Use lower rates when a multi-year approach is planned.

Q: Does vinegar kill kochia?
A: Organic herbicides, such as those containing acetic acid (Vinegar is 3 — 9 percent acetic acid by volume) or clove oil, can be used to control kochia.

Q: Will vinegar kill smartweed?
A: Vinegar can work well at controlling broadleaf plantain, 9 carpetweed, 4 common chickweed, 13 cutleaf evening primrose, 2 ground ivy, 9 ladysthumb, 13 oriental mustard, 11 pale smartweed, 13 tumble pigweed, 4 spiny amaranth, 4 and even crabgrass!

Q: What spray kills Wireweed?
A: Glyphosate can be effective on Wireweed, but as a non-selective herbicide it will poison everything it touches, including the lawn. It’s best reserved for careful application to weeds on driveways, paths, bare soil or around patios and in garden beds. Selective herbicides are less dangerous to your lawn.

Q: How do you kill kochia without killing grass?
A: Herbicides that will control kochia effectively include fluroxypyr (sold under the trade names of Vista and Starane), dicamba, and glyphosate. Fluroxypyr and dicamba are selective herbicides that will control broadleaf weeds and typically not injure grasses.

Q: Is torpedo grass invasive in Florida?
A: Introduction. Torpedograss (Panicum repens) is one of the most invasive perennial grass species in Florida landscapes.

Q: How do you kill Johnson grass in a flower bed?
A: The critical time to kill johnsongrass is while the weed is becoming established and before it has spread over the entire field. For sites with established infestations, a fall application of Roundup or Touchdown will kill emerged tissue and often developing rhizomes.

Q: Will Roundup kill Smutgrass?
A: Round Up (or other glyphosate herbicides) will kill smutgrass. Unfortunately, they will also kill the desirable grasses that are growing in the pasture. If you “spot spray” the smutgrass clumps with glyphosate, you will kill the entire spot, leaving a bare area.

Q: How long does grass killer stay in soil?
A: Weedkiller stays in the soil, or becomes part of it, for many years. Throughout the growing season of the plants, the weed killer is washed away with the water. However, as the plants grow and compete with one another, weed killer breaks down into smaller molecules.

Q: Can you spray Pramitol around trees?
A: Pramitol will kill tree roots and is the best grass and weed killer. It is non selective meaning it will kill all vegetation.

Q: How do I get rid of nut grass in my lawn?
A: If you have a small amount, you can remove nutgrass by digging it out with a small spade, making sure that there are no roots or bulbs left in the soil. If you have a great amount of nutgrass you will need a Selective Herbicide such as Amgrow Sedgehammer.

Q: What chemical will kill nut grass?
A: The only nonselective postemergent herbicide currently available to help control nutsedge in the home landscape is glyphosate (e.g. Roundup) or glyphosate with nonaoic acid (Roundup Plus). This herbicide requires repeated applications, and its use will result only in limited suppression of these weeds.

Q: Can cows eat Smutgrass?
A: “Can we use smutgrass as forage?” Stam asked the group. “Yes we can, with the right management strategy. I’ve learned a lot about our forages doing this.” Competitive rotational grazing places more cows in smaller pastures and forces them to compete for whatever forage is available.

Q: Why cows should not eat alfalfa?
A: The biggest concern with grazing frosted alfalfa is the potential for bloat. Bloat is a serious problem in livestock, especially cattle, and preventative measures must be used when animals are placed in bloat-inducing situations, such as grazing alfalfa.

Q: Will goats eat Smutgrass?
A: Other producers have observed that goats will graze smutgrass. Davy et al. suggests that this may be related protein levels and digestibility. Clipping (or grazing) can maintain smutgrass in a more vegetative state, increasing palatability and nutritional value.

Q: What hedges do cows not eat?
A: Other poisonous plants which are common in gardens and toxic to sheep and cattle include Oleander, Azalea, Castor Bean Tree, Foxgloves, Cestrum, Camelia and many more. Also be wary of garden clippings and trimmings that are put into a rubbish pile, if your stock get access to this it could be deadly!

Q: What happens if cows eat ragwort?
A: Ragwort damages the liver, and poisoning tends to be chronic, occurring over several weeks or months. Affected cattle can lose weight, show signs of jaundice, depression, diarrhoea, colic or straining, and develop a “bottle jaw” (fluid under the jaw and brisket, due to low blood protein).

Q: How do you identify Smutgrass?
A: Smutgrass can be identified as an upright, tough, perennial grassy weed. Its collar is divided into two parts by the mid-vein, and its sheath is smooth and round. It also has flat blades that taper to a sharp point. This lawn weed can best be identified by its seed head, which forms a long, narrow, spike-like panicle.

Q: What does Lippia grass look like?
A: Lippia flowers are small, 5-10 mm across, lilac or pink in colour. Leaves occur in pairs. (Photo: JJ Dellow.)

Q: Where does Witchgrass grow?
A: Witchgrass is a clumping, summer annual grass with open, branching, flower heads. Other common names for this weed include tumbleweedgrass and witches-hair. It is common throughout California and grows at elevations to about 4900 feet (1500 m).

Q: How do you identify African lovegrass?
A: The leaves of African lovegrass are dark green to blue-green in colour. The blades are narrow, 3mm wide and 25 to 35cm long. They are narrowly tapered and often curl near the tips. The leaf margins are often folded or rolled inwards.

Q: What does the plant nutsedge look like?
A: Nutsedge has yellow/green leaves and a triangular shaped stalk. There are generally three leaves growing from the base of the plant that curve over and bend back toward the ground. The plant generally grows faster than turf grass, giving it a tall appearance.

Q: How do you identify fireweed?
A: Identification. Fireweed is a daisy-like plant that grows from 100 to 600 mm high. It is usually a low, heavily branched, annual or short-lived perennial plant. Leaves: Generally bright green, fleshy and narrow, 20–70 mm long, alternately arranged on the stem, with serrated, entire or lobed margins.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.