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weed that has long seeds that stick to clothes

Weed that has long seeds that stick to clothes

While it may look similar to other grasses in your paddocks, barley grass can cause big problems for your animals. Here’s six steps to take to avoid problems and eliminate barley grass from your property.

1. Identify and Map

During Spring when the grass gets its distinctive seed head (images shown below), map out exactly where it is growing so that you are well prepared to attack it early next year. Our aim is going to be to prevent the barley grass developing and then dropping its seeds, so we’ll need to take action next winter and early spring before it has the seed heads that we can identify. Mapping the locations now gives us a head start on treating it next year.

Barley grass is an annual grass which, like most pasture grasses, emerges in autumn, grows through winter, and then sets its seed in spring and early summer before browning off and dying – leaving a new set of seeds in the ground for next year.

2. Keep Animals Clear

Once you see the seed heads forming, it’s important to keep animals clear from grazing the barley grass as much as possible. Barley grass is actually quite a good food source for livestock – the grass leaves that is – but the seed heads with the long pointed shapes can cause problems. The main issues caused to horses, sheep, dogs, cattle, alpacas etc by barley grass are skin irritations, mouth ulcers, gum infections, and damage or infection to the eyes. The seeds also contaminate wool, and are easily spread by attaching themselves to the coats of livestock.

3. Prevent Seeding

Barley grass is an annual grass that survives by dropping its seeds every year. Our aim therefore is to prevent it from forming seeds. This is done during winter and early spring, by identifying and treating the barley grass before the seed heads can fully form. Fortunately, barley grass seeds do not persist in the ground for very long, so by stopping seeds from falling in just one year we can make a good start on eliminating it. We will still need to continue the work over a couple of years, but the seeds do not last as well in the ground from one year to the next as some other weeds (like Capeweed).

Once it starts growing during winter, barley grass can be identified by its slightly lighter green colour that other annual or perennial grass types, and its leaves are quite long and wide, covered in soft hairs and tapering to a point. If you have mapped your areas the previous year, you’ll have a much better idea of where to start looking.

Yellow avens, Geum aleppicum

Leaves very variable, rosette leaves long-stalked, pinnately compound with a large terminal leaflet (a) and a mixture of large (b) and small (c) leaflets along each side of the central stalk (rachis), leaflets coarsely toothed, hairy and green on both surfaces; stem leaves alternate (1 per node), similar but with shorter stalks, especially towards the top of the stem and each with a pair of green leaflet-like stipules (d) where the leafstalk (e) joins the stem; upper leaves stalkless, sometimes just shallowly toothed or lobed without being divided into leaflets.

Flowers and Fruit

Flowers few in widely branching inflorescences, 1 – 2 cm across, with 5 deep yellow to orange-yellow petals, 5 smaller sepals, numerous stamens and pistils in a dense central cluster; at maturity each flower stalk lengthening and the cluster of pistils enlarging into a nearly spherical brown to dark brown head or bur about 2 cm in diameter; each single-seeded pistil (now a fruit or “seed”) in the mature bur has a sharply hooked tip (f) which clings to fur, clothes and skin. Flowers from early June to late summer, and the burs persist into late fall or winter.


Yellow avens occurs throughout Ontario in meadows, open woods, pastures, waste areas and roadsides, but is rarely found in cultivated land.

Distinguishing Features

Yellow avens is distinguished in the rosette stage by long-stalked, pinnately compound leaves, each with a large terminal leaflet and irregularly sized and shaped lateral leaflets; and by flowering and fruiting stages, by its variable leaves, its deep yellow to orange-yellow flowers and the brown spherical, bur-like clusters of seeds, each with a long hooked beak that will cling to skin and clothing.