Control Of Crowsfoot Grass: How To Get Rid Of Crowsfoot Grass Weed?
Crow’s Foot (Euphorbia pulchra) is a common weed in lawns all over the world. Crow’s foot is a small perennial grass with short, needlelike leaves and large, dark green flowers that are white at first but turn yellowish brown when mature. It grows from 1/2 to 3 feet tall and spreads slowly up to 6 inches wide. Its flowers are followed by tiny seeds that fall to the ground where they germinate into new plants.
The name “crow’s foot” comes from its resemblance to the claw marks left behind by a crow or raven after it eats something edible. The seeds of this species are poisonous if ingested, so don’t eat them! They’re not toxic enough to kill you, but they can cause stomach upset and vomiting which could lead to dehydration and even death.
You may have seen crow’s foot in your yard before, but never paid much attention to it until recently. Now that you’ve noticed it, you’re wondering what kind of poison might be lurking inside those tiny seeds. You’d like to know if there are any chemicals or pesticides that can be used to kill these little seeds. Or maybe you just want to try some natural methods of controlling this weed in your garden.
It doesn’t matter why you want to get rid of it because the information you need is all here.
When people think of poison they usually think of something that can kill you, but not everything that’s poisonous is deadly. It’s also important to know that just because something is poisonous, it doesn’t mean that it will kill you or even make you sick. Some poisons are more dangerous than others and the same is true for crow’s foot seeds.
In this case, the main poison in crow’s foot seeds is a chemical called cytisine. It acts on your nervous system by stimulating the receptors for acetylcholine, which causes them to stay activated longer than normal. If you’re not familiar with the term, acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that your nerves use to communicate with each other. This causes your acetycholine receptors to stay active longer and it creates the same effect as having too much acetylcholine.
These stimulated receptors send messages to muscles that tell them to contract involuntarily. In other words, your body is being hijacked by the chemicals in the seeds so that it starts sending involuntary muscle contractions throughout your body.
The most common symptoms of cytisine poisoning are increased saliva and sweat production, rapid heartbeat, and a general oversensitivity to all stimuli. People who become sick from the seeds of crow’s foot report experiencing muscle tremors and twitching, headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, and even loss of consciousness. These symptoms usually begin within 2 hours of eating the seeds and they may last anywhere from 6 to 48 hours. When cytisine poisoning is over, the acetylcholine receptors return to normal and all of the involuntary muscle contractions caused by the seed’s cytisine are over as well.
If you want to try eating some of these seeds to see what happens, go right ahead. The minimum toxic dose is 4-8 seeds and these can cause mild to moderate symptoms that last up to 48 hours. More than 8-12 seeds is likely to cause severe symptoms that can be life-threatening. The most anyone has ever eaten before suffering serious effects were 23 of these things and they still survived.
Eating 50 or more seeds can be fatal.
If you’re concerned about pets or children in your yard being exposed to this stuff, don’t be. The bitter, unpleasant taste of the seeds makes them undesirable as food and most animals won’t eat them at all. Children are much more likely to choke on them than they are to suffer any ill effects of the poison. (They will probably throw up though so keep that in mind if you have kids or pets.)
If you’re still concerned about your children or pets, it would be a good idea to rake up any fallen seeds or seed casings in your yard and get rid of them so there’s no chance of anyone becoming sick. You can also try to grow a more “pet friendly” lawn by limiting the amount of it you have or replacing it altogether with artificial turf.
Crowsfoot grass is considered to be an invasive species and many people hire companies that specialize in removing weeds in general to take care of large patches of this stuff because it is considered to be such a bother. If you’re a gardener though, it’s an entirely different story. Crowsfoot grass works very well as an ornamental accent in a flower garden due to its dark green color and dainty white flowers.
Whether you need to get rid of this plant or you want to cultivate it, you should definitely be aware of the toxin it contains and what it can do to your body. If you or someone you know experiences any of the symptoms of cytisine poisoning after coming into contact with this plant, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately.
It’s not always the plants you think are bad that can hurt you, it’s the pretty ones too.
Sources & references used in this article:
Discussion of the biological control of crowsfoot grass,(Eleusine indica), in India, Africa and Australia. by AJ Wapshere – Proceedings of the 9th Australian Weeds …, 1990 – cabdirect.org
Evaluation of herbicides for control of summer grass and crowsfoot grass in couch. by D Worrad – … the Eighth Australian Weeds Conference, Sydney, New …, 1987 – cabdirect.org
Application of sorghum, sunflower and rice water extract combinations helps in reducing herbicide dose for weed management in rice by A Rehman, ZA Cheema, A Khaliq, M Arshad… – Int. J. Agric …, 2010 – academia.edu
Fenoxaprop for control of yellow bristle grass in pasture and its efficacy on other C4 grasses by TK James, A Rahman, CA Dowsett… – New Zealand Plant …, 2013 – journal.nzpps.org
Paraquat resistance-Risks and consequences by A Claireton – Australian Canegrower, 2016 – search.informit.com.au
Application of bispyribac‐sodium provides effective weed control in direct‐planted rice on a sandy loam soil by K Jabran, M HUSSAIN, M FAROOQ… – … and Management, 2012 – Wiley Online Library
The evaluation of rope-wick application of glyphosate as a method of chemical weed control in some typical farm locations by AI Linedale – 1984 – elibrary.sugarresearch.com.au
Weed management in resource conservation production systems in Pakistan by A Nawaz, M Farooq – Crop Protection, 2016 – Elsevier
Application of allelopathic water extracts for suppressing the rice weeds by ZA Cheema, M Zaman, R Ahmad, G Murtaza – Crop Environ, 2010 – academia.edu