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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Rabbitfoot polypogon  (Polypogon monspeliensis)

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Life stages of Rabbitfoot polypogon flower head mature plant seeds collar and sheathseedling

Rabbitfoot polypogon, also known as rabbitfootgrass, is a clumping winter annual in mild climate regions and a summer annual at higher elevations or in areas with cold winters. It is common throughout California up to 6900 feet (2100 m) and inhabits moist to wet areas in agricultural land and other disturbed, open places.


Pond and stream edges, ditches, pastures, crop fields, roadsides, and moist sites in vineyards and orchards.


Leaves are slender and hairlike.

Mature plant

Stems grow erect or bend abruptly at the base, can reach up to 3-1/3 feet (1 m) in length and they are round in cross-section. Leaves are rolled in the bud, yellowish green, flat, narrow, hairless, slightly rough to the touch, and usually 2 to 12 inches (5–30 cm) long and 2/17 to 2/5 of an inch (0.3–1 cm) wide.

Collar region

Ligules are membranous, thin, and have a somewhat pointy, ragged tip. There are no auricles. Sheaths are open.


Flowering takes place from April through October. Flower heads are soft, spikelike, egg shaped to oblong, from 2/5 to almost 7 inches (1–17 cm) long and 2/5 to 1 inch (1–2.5 cm) wide.  Flower heads are densely packed with tiny flowers and pale green to yellowish tan. The flower head looks soft and fluffy, thus giving name to the plant.


Reproduces by seed.

Related or similar plants

  • Chilean polypogon, Polypogon australis
  • Streambank polypogon, Polypogon imberbis
  • Ditch polypogon, Polypogon interruptus

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