Though its name would imply it’s a sedge, broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus L.) is actually a clump-forming perennial grass. It is most commonly recognized in the dormant stage as persistent tan clumps of dried leaves and stems. Broomsedge is a weed of low-maintenance pastures, turfgrass, nursery crops, and other perennial crops. It is usually found in open, sunny locations on low-fertility and drought-prone soils, particularly unmanaged meadows, roadsides, and waste areas. It is found in California and throughout the eastern half of the United States, but not common in the northern New England States.
Reproduction of broomsedge is both vegetative and by seed. Seedlings emerge in late spring or early summer. Foliage of mature broomsedge plants is smooth or sparsely hairy and often has a whitish or bluish cast on the surface. Clumps enlarge by spreading short rhizomes (underground stems). In the fall, plants turn reddish tan and stems become stiff, persisting well into winter. The hairy racemes of the spikelets are easily recognizable when the stiff stems blow in the wind.
Broomsedge is not a desirable species in pastures. It has relatively little nutritional value for livestock and takes valuable nutrients, water, and space that could otherwise be used for desirable forage plants. A heavy infestation of broomsedge is often considered an indicator of poor pasture. It is a common belief that areas infested with broomsedge are low in soil fertility and have a low soil pH.
To learn more about broomsedge and how to control it, check out these extension publications:
- Virginia Tech Weed ID Guide – Broomsedge
- Alabama Forages – Suppression of Broomsedge in Pastures
- North Carolina State University – Turffiles Weeds: Broomsedge
- Using Prescribed Fire, Tillage, and Fertilizer to Manage Broomsedge-Infested Pastures
Resource: Uva, Richard H., Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso. Weeds of the Northeast. Ithaca: Comstock Pub. Associates, 1997. Print.