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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Bearded sprangletop  (Leptochloa fascicularis)

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Life stages of Bearded sprangletop flower head collar and sheath spikelets on flower head branch seedling florets and spikelets

Bearded sprangletop is a widespread native summer annual grass. In California it grows in the Central Valley, Great Basin, and desert, to about 3900 feet (1200 m) and is typically associated with rice fields. It also inhabits other agricultural lands and disturbed places. It is generally more of a problem in rice fields where the water level is kept low during the early growth stages of rice. Because its seeds are smaller than rice grains, it is easily separated out during processing. It is usually associated with alkaline soils. Although this plant thrives in wet places, its seedling cannot survive under water.


Marshes, wetlands, summer irrigated crops, irrigation and drainage ditches, orchards, vineyards, moist pastures, landscaped sites, and roadsides.


Leaves on seedlings are light green usually with a white midrib.

Mature plant

Bearded sprangletop grows upright to spreading in loose clumps. It grows to about 3-1/3 feet (1 m) in height or length and has well spaced flowering branches. Stems are round to slightly flattened in cross-section and have rough sheaths and leaf blades. Lower sheaths may be straw colored to reddish. Leaves are flat to loosely rolled, 4 to 20 inches (10–50 cm) long, hairless, and have a whitish midvein. Leaves are rolled in the bud.

Collar region

Ligules are long, membranous, with a jagged tip, and tear easily. There are no auricles.


Flowering takes place from May through November. The upright to horizontal open-branching flower stalks, have small spikelike flower clusters that change from gray-green when young to straw colored at maturity. Bearded sprangletop can be distinguished from other sprangletops that grow in California by the short needlelike awns on the tip of each flower.


Reproduces by seed.

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