Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Setaria faberi
(giant foxtail)



Setaria faberi (giant foxtail)


  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Setaria faberi
  • Preferred Common Name
  • giant foxtail
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae

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S. faberi showing panicle, Kansas City, USA.
CaptionS. faberi showing panicle, Kansas City, USA.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
S. faberi showing panicle, Kansas City, USA.
PanicleS. faberi showing panicle, Kansas City, USA.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Setaria faberi Herrm. (1910)

Preferred Common Name

  • giant foxtail

Other Scientific Names

  • Setaria macrocarpa Lucznik (1937)

International Common Names

  • Spanish: cola de zorra gigante
  • French: sétaire géante

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Borstenhirse, Fabers; Borstenhirse, Grosse
  • Japan: akinoenokorogusa

EPPO code

  • SETFA (Setaria faberi)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Setaria
  •                                 Species: Setaria faberi


Top of page A tufted annual grass, robust, up to 1.5 m high. Inflorescence up to 20 cm long, usually nodding. Spikelets 3 mm with 3-6 bristles, 3-10 mm long. Upper glume three-quarters of the length of smooth upper lemma. Seeds usually green (from Lorenzi and Jeffery, 1987). S. faberi is a tetraploid with chromosome number (2n) = 36 (Wang et al., 1995).


Top of page S. faberi is a native of China, introduced to many other regions and especially important in the eastern USA.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentWang et al., 1995
-HeilongjiangPresentWang et al., 1995
JapanPresentHolm et al., 1979
Korea, Republic ofPresentKim et al., 1996

North America

CanadaPresentHolm et al., 1979
-OntarioPresentWang et al., 1995
USAPresentHolm et al., 1979
-AlabamaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-ArkansasPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-ConnecticutWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-DelawareWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-GeorgiaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-IllinoisWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-IndianaWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-IowaWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-KansasPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-KentuckyWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-LouisianaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MarylandWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MinnesotaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MississippiPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-MissouriWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-NebraskaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-New JerseyWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-New YorkWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-North CarolinaWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-OhioWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-OklahomaPresentLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-PennsylvaniaWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-Rhode IslandWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-South CarolinaWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-TennesseeWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-VirginiaWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987
-West VirginiaWidespreadLorenzi and Jeffery, 1987


BelarusRestricted distributionTret'yakov, 1988
Czech RepublicPresentWang et al., 1995
FrancePresentMorin and Gasquez, 1981
LithuaniaPresentGudzhinskas, 1991
Russian FederationPresentWang et al., 1995
-Russian Far EastPresentWang et al., 1995
SpainPresentRecasens and Conesa, 1995


Top of page A weed of annual and perennial crops and waste places.

Habitat List

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Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Biology and Ecology

Top of page S. faberi is an annual weed reproducing by seeds. The seeds are dormant when shed, this dormancy being lost after several months, but more rapidly with exposure to moist, cold conditions. A light requirement and secondary dormancy may be induced by prolonged burial (Taylorson, 1972; Kim et al., 1996). Germination is high at 20°C, lower at 30°C (Fausey and Renner, 1997).


Top of page S. faberi is one of the most important weeds of the USA maize belt and the subject of intensive research, and development of population models (Forcella et al., 1995).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page S. faberi is not unlike S. viridis and S. pumila but more robust with nodding spikes and different spikelet structure. It is most likely to be confused with large forms of S. viridis (vars. major, robusta-purpurea and robusta-alba) but S. faberi has larger spikelets (over 2.5 mm), more bristles, and softly hairy rather than scabrous leaf surfaces. See Schreiber and Oliver (1971) for a detailed comparison with these. See also datasheet for S. viridis.

Prevention and Control

Top of page S. faberi is controlled by most standard herbicides for annual grasses, but is somewhat tolerant of triazines. More complete triazine resistance has now developed in France, the USA and Spain. Resistance to sethoxydim, fluazifop and diclofop has been reported in the USA (Wiederholt and Stoltenberg, 1993).


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Fausey JC; Renner KA, 1997. Germination, emergence, and growth of giant foxtail (Setaria faberi) and fall panicum (Panicum dichotomiflorum). Weed Science, 45(3):423-425; 11 ref.

Forcella F; Barbour JC; Oriade CA; King RP; Buhler DD, 1995. Weed emergence modeling for a bioeconomic weed/crop management expert system. Clean water - clean environment - 21st century: team agriculture - working to protect water resources. Volume 1: pesticides. Proceedings Kansas City, Missouri, USA, 5-8 March, 1995., 73-76; 11 ref.

Gudzhinskas ZA, 1991. Supplement to the adventive flora of the Kaliningrad region. Gramineae. Botanicheskii Zhurnal, 76(10):1441-1446; 22 ref.

Holm LG; Pancho JV; Herberger JP; Plucknett DL, 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. New York, USA: John Wiley and Sons, 391 pp.

Kim JS; Kim TJ; Cho KY, 1996. Studies on germination characteristics and differential responses to herbicides in Setaria spp. Korean Journal of Weed Science, 16(3):187-193; 15 ref.

Lorenzi HJ; Jeffery LS(Editors), 1987. Weeds of the United States and their control. New York, USA; Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. Ltd., 355 pp.

Morin C; Gasquez J, 1981. New data on triazine-resistant weeds: grasses. Compte Rendu de la 11e Conference du COLUMA, 1:275-283

Recasens J; Conesa JA, 1995. New adventitious weeds in the irrigated crops of Catalonia. Proceedings of the 1995 Congress of the Spanish Weed Science Society, Huesca, Spain. Madrid, Spain: Sociedad Espanola de Malherbologia, 59-65.

Schreiber MM; Oliver LR, 1971. Two new varieties of Setaria viridis. Weed Science, 19:424-427.

Taylorson RB, 1972. Phytochrome controlled changes in dormancy and germination of buried weed seeds. Weed Science, 20:417-422.

Tret'yakov DI, 1988. New adventitious plant species in the Belorussian flora. Botanicheskii Zhurnal, 73(6):903-910; 38 ref.

Wang RongLin; Wendel JF; Dekker JH, 1995. Weedy adaptation in Setaria spp. II. Genetic diversity and population genetic structure in S. glauca, S. geniculata, and S. faberii (Poaceae). American Journal of Botany, 82(8):1031-1039; 26 ref.

Wiederholt RJ; Stoltenberg DE, 1993. Resistance of giant foxtail (Setaria faberi Herrm.) and large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop.) biotypes to acetyl-coenzyme A carboxylase inhibitors. Resistant Pest Management, 5(2):17-18.

Distribution Maps

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