Dactyloctenium aegyptium, more commonly known as crowfoot grass, is common in Eastern and Southern states, particularly in states along shorelines. This grassy weed has benefits in preventing the erosion of sandy soil, however it is a significant turf invader in unwanted areas. The tall, claw-like plumes make it easy to spot, but not as easy to eliminate from unwanted areas.
Although crowfoot grass takes on the appearance of many other types of tall, natural grasses, it is technically not considered a grass. It produces blade-like foliage, which is covered in fine hairs. Five rolled ligules appear at the top of the blade, giving the 2-foot-tall plants the appearance of a crow’s foot, and thus the name. It is most prolific in late spring and early summer months in the cooler climates of the Eastern states, but can be a year-round problem in the warmer climates of the Southern states.
The grassy weed can be found along beaches and shorelines of the Eastern and Southern states. Like other beach grasses, crowfoot grass has a matting root system which can prevent soil erosion in sandy regions and prevent topographical damage as a result of wind, rain, and tides. Crowfoot differs from other beach grasses in that it produces a significant number of seeds which are easily dispersed in windy climates. The seeds take root in landscapes and turf and compete and crowd out other foliage and shrubbery for sunlight and resources. It is also typically found in ditches, scrub, and other areas where soil has been disturbed. It has a relatively short seed germination period, which means it takes over quickly.
There are a number of means of eliminating the quickly-growing grass. Regular mowing before the emergence of seed heads is a good way to mechanically eliminate the weed from turf and lawns. It can also be pulled by the roots, however this method (because of the matting root system) will often damage large amounts of turf and soil and has the propensity to spread seeds upon removal. Herbicides applied by a professional lawn maintenance service that offers a weed control plan are usually the best measures of eliminating the weed. They are typically preemptive, and kill the weeds and the roots before it can cause significant damage to lawns and turf.