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Noxious Weeds


Medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusa (L.) Nevski)

 
Grass family (Poaceae) 

Composite photo of Medusahead

 

GROWTH HABIT:
This aggressive winter annual may grow 6 to 24 inches (1.5 to 7 dm) tall. Flowering and seedformation occur in May and June.
LEAVES: The leaf blades are usually 1/8 inch (2 mm) wide or less and they are rolled when cut in cross-section. 
INFLORESCENCE:
The inflorescence is a long-awned spike that is nearly as wide as it is long. The mature awns are twisted and range from 1 to 4 inches long. They are stiff and finely barbed.
OTHER:
Medusahead, introduced from Eurasia, is predominant on millions of acres of semi-arid rangeland in the Pacific Northwest. It is extremely competitive, crowding out even such undesirable species as downy brome. Infested ranches have suffered 40 to 75 percent reductions in grazing capacity. Control of small isolated infestations is critical to reducing the impact of Medusahead on Great Basin rangeland. Sometimes Medusahead is confused with foxtail barley or squirreltail. However, its spike head does not break apart as the seeds mature. It is an annual while they are perennial plants. After the individual awned-florets fall away, a bristly head made up of awn-like glumes persists, often over winter. Medusahead seedlings are similar to downy brome seedlings, except the latter is much hairier
KEY CHARACTERS:
Twisted awns or beards are a good identifying characteristic of Medusahead.
DISTRIBUTION:Common in Nevada.