Digitaria sanguinalis (weed)

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Digitaria sanguinalis (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Digitaria sanguinalis (weed) (L.) Scop. - (large crabgrass)

This is a widespread and common weed which can be a problem in crops like maize, soybean, groundnut, cotton or vegetables. It can form mats and is also often an undesirable grass in turf. On the other hand it is a useful and nutritious forage grass and is suitable for hay. It has been previously cultivated and the seeds are edible, although it is difficult to harvest.

D. sanguinalis prefers warm environments and nitrogen-rich sandy to loamy soils. As a summer annual grass, it dies after frost and germinates again the coming spring. One plant may produce up to 2,000 seeds which persist for several years. Natural dispersal is only over short distances. Spread over larger distances involves human activities.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Blut-Fingerhirse
• English: large crabgrass
summer grass
• Español: pendejuelo
• Français: digitaire sanguine
• Português: capim-milhã

The plant is low growing and usually does not exceed a height of 30 cm. Stems and inflorescences, but also the leaves may have a reddish colouration. Leaves are short (3-10 cm long), pointed, about 8 mm wide, hairy at the base and with an open hairy sheath around the stem. The ligule is about 2 mm long.

The inflorescence has 4-8 spikes (racemes), about 5-15 cm long, which branch from an upright stem (some may branch from the same point). The spikelets grow in pairs and are about 3 mm long. The seeds are shiny, yellowish-brown and 2-3 mm long.

D. sanguinalis is similar in appearance to Digitaria ischaemum but more hairy.