Medusahead Grass (Taeniatherum caput-medusae)
Grass Family (Poaceae)
Photo Courtesy of CDFA
Description: Aggressive winter annual 1/2 to 2 feet (15 to 61 centimeters) tall. Leaf blades generally 1/8 inch (.32 cm) wide or less, rolled. Inflorescence long-awned spike nearly as wide as long. Mature awns or beards twisted, 1 to 4 inches 2.5 to 10 cm) long, stiff, finely barbed. Sometimes confused with foxtail or squirreltail, however spike head does not break apart as seeds mature. Individual awn-florets fall away, leaving a bristly head of awn-like glumes that will persist over winter.
Habitat: Native to Eurasia. Extremely competitive crowding out many native and desirable plants, invading millions of acres of semi-arid rangeland. Appears more commonly on high shrink-swell clay soils. Infested rangelands have suffered up to 75% reductions in grazing capacity. Introduces fire into non-fire prone ecosystems. Control of small, isolated infestations is critical.
Distribution: Medusahead grass is found throughout the interior northern California region in disturbed areas.
Flowering Period: Year round as rains allow, predominantly winter/spring.