Green foxtail

Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv.

Life cycle

Erect summer annual.


Leaves are hairless, rough, rolled in the bud and up to 12 inches long. Leaf sheaths are hairless except for short hairs along the margin.




Erect, mostly 3-foot-tall stems are branched and clump-forming at the base. Stems are usually round but are occasionally flattened in cross-section.

Giant foxtail ligule
Green foxtail collar region.

Flowers and fruit

The seedhead is a dense, cylinder-shaped, foxtail-like panicle with green to purple bristles. Usually erect to slightly nodding seedheads are capable of producing prolific amounts of oval to egg-shaped, yellowish brown seeds.

green foxtail seedhead
Green foxtail seedhead.



Similar weeds

Giant foxtail (S. faberi Herrm.) Differs by having a larger, up to 7-foot-tall stature, leaves with numerous short hairs on the upper surface, and longer, highly nodding panicles.

Green foxtail ligule Giant foxtail seedhead Giant foxtail leaf surface
Giant foxtail collar region (left), seedhead (middle), and upper leaf surface (right).

Yellow foxtail [S. glauca (L.) Beauv.] Differs by having long, wispy hairs on the upper leaf surface near the stem, a panicle with yellowish brown bristles, and a yellow to light brown seedhead at maturity.

Yellowfoxtailplant Yellow foxtail ligule Yellow foxtail seedhead
Yellow foxtail seedling (left), collar region (middle), and seedhead (right).

Print a PDF of this page: Green foxtail

Back to identifying nursery weeds.

The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.