Dactylis glomerata L.

Family: - Poaceae.


Dactylis is from the Greek daktylos meaning finger and refers to the shape of the seed head.

Cocksfoot refers to the shape of the seed head.

Other names:

Currie Cocksfoot.


A tussocky perennial grass with light green leaves, flattened tillers and with branched, dense, one sided seed heads.





Emerging leaves folded.

Blade - Light green to grey green, 200-500 mm long by 3-6 mm wide. Initially folded but flat at maturity. Boat shaped tip. Hairless or slightly rough. Prominent midrib. Tip pointed.

Ligule - Membranous, 2-10 mm long, hairless with ragged margin.

Auricles - None.

Collar - Pale yellow.

Sheath - Flattened and rolled with a prominent keel. Hairless, rough to touch or shortly hairy.


Densely tufted. 600-1500 mm high. Flattened.

Flower head:

Compound, erect or spreading panicle, bare at the base. Short, 100-200 mm long, oblong to egg shaped. Initially narrow but spreading when in flower. Upper branches usually close together. Densely packed one sided clusters at end of branches giving a knob like appearance. Branches rough to touch.


Spikelets - Egg shaped, flattened, 5-7 mm long, 2-5 flowered. Almost stalkless.

Florets - Flattened.

Glumes - 1-3 nerved, membranous, persistent, with tiny point on tip, rough or hairy on keel. Lower glume 5.5-6 mm long. Upper glume 4-5 mm long.

Palea - Shorter than lemma. Keels rough or with tiny hairs.

Lemma - 5.5-6.5 long, overlapping, flattened, 5 nerved, stiff except on translucent edges, rough or hairy on keel, with tiny point (1 mm long) at the tip which may be notched.

Stamens -

Anthers -

Rachilla disarticulating.


Pale. Hairy keel. Short awn at tip about 1 mm long.



Key Characters:

Long, membranous ligule. No auricles. Pale collar. Leaves folded in the bud. Knobbly flower head.


Life cycle:

Perennial. Commences growth in autumn before the break of the season and is productive in winter and grows rapidly in spring. Seeds germinate from autumn to spring.



Flowering times:

November to January in SA.

December to March in Perth.

Late spring to early summer in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Origin and History:

North Africa, Europe, Western Asia.

Naturalised in temperate Australia.

Introduced as a pasture grass.





Temperate areas with more than 600 mm of rain per year and a growing season of more than 8 months.


Prefers well drained loams but grows on a wide range of soils. Grows poorly in poorly drained areas.

Plant Associations:



Sown pasture grass.

Good fodder when young but becomes rank and unpalatable at maturity.

Honey plant.


Weed of vegetables, lawns, disturbed areas and roadsides.





Management and Control:

In cropping areas, Cocksfoot can usually be reduced to insignificant levels by using glyphosate for spray topping, summer weed control and pre plant weed control.

A typical program would be heavy autumn grazing followed by heavy grazing in late winter to spring with stock being removed when the annual grasses start to elongate in spring. When the heads of annual grasses just start to emerge Spraytop with 800 mL/ha glyphosate(450g/L) followed by 800 mL/ha 4 weeks later. If summer weeds emerge then spray with glyphosate at a rate appropriate for the weeds. In autumn spray annual weeds when they have reached the 2 leaf stage with about 2 L/ha glyphosate(450g/L). Rates should be adjusted so that a total of 3-4 L/ha glyphosate is applied over the 2-4 sprays. This will give results similar to applying 6 L/ha as a single application. Cultivation, 2-10 days after spraying with a scarifier or using a tyned full cut seeder to plant the crop will provide improved control compared to minimum tillage planting.


Eradication strategies:

Graze continuously and heavily.

Spray with glyphosate, preferably before flowering and repeat each 6-8 weeks if new growth appears.


Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:


Plants of similar appearance:

Barley grass (Hordeum leporinum)

Canary Grass (Phalaris canariensis)

Elephant Grass (Pennisetum purpureum)

Feathertop (Pennisetum villosum)

Hare's-tail Grass (Lagurus ovatus) is similar but hairy.

Slender Foxtail (Alopecurus myosuroides)

Marsh Foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus)

Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis)

Timothy Grass (Phleum pratense)

Briza, Fescue, Puccinellia, Bromes, Ryegrass, Poa, and Vulpia.


Black, J.M. (1978). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P115. Diagram.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P27,29. Diagram.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P50-51. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #409.1.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P950.

Moerkerk, M.R. and Barnett, A.G. (1998). More Crop Weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. P30. Diagrams. Photos.

Paterson, J.G. (1977). Grasses in South Western Australia. (Western Australian Department of Agriculture Bulletin 4007). P42. Diagram.


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