Setaria pumila

yellow foxtail, pigeon grass, yellow bristlegrass


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Attachment


Leaf Type


Leaf Shape


Growth Form


Flower Color


Flower Month

May - November

Height (meters)

0.2 - 1.3

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Wetland Class


Wetland Coefficient of Conservatism


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

May be confused with Setaria geniculata which is a perennial with elliptic spikelets, usually shorter than 3 mm, and the subtending bristles are never reddish tinged, while Setaria glauca is an annual with broadly elliptic to ovate spikelets, usually 3 mm or longer, with subtending bristles that have a reddish tinge (see photo).

Cultural Information

Seeds of this species are dormant when harvested. Dormancy can be broken by dry storage, hulling, acid scarification and moist stratification (Povilaitis 1956, Peters and Youkum 1961). Seeds planted in the field during the fall germinated well the following April and May (Dawson and Bruns 1962).

Animal Use

This information is for the genus Setaria with note that S. lutescens and S viridis are especially important for wildlife. Setaria grisebachii is valuable to quail and other ground-feeding birds: Animals that eat its seeds: Pintail duck, Blue-winged teal duck, Green-winged teal duck, King rail, Yellow rail, Pectoral sandpiper, Wilson snipe, Ground dove, Mourning dove, Eastern white-winged dove, Greater prairie chicken, Bobwhite quail, Gambel quail, Wild turkey, Woodcock, Redwing blackbird, Bobolink, Indigo bunting, Painted bunting, Cardinal, Cowbird, Dickcissel, Boat-tailed grackle, Purple grackle, Blue grosbeak, Junco, Horned lark, Meadowlark, American pipit, Pyrrhuloxia, Chipping sparrow, Clay-colored sparrow, English sparrow, Field sparrow, Fox sparrow, Harris sparrow, Henslow sparrow, Lark sparrow, Pine-woods sparrow, Savannah sparrow, Seaside sparrow, Song sparrow, Swamp sparrow, Tree sparrow, Vesper sparrow, White-crowned sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Albert towhee. Animals that eat its foliage and seeds: Jack rabbit, Muskrat, Eastern cottontail rabbit, Mearns cottontail rabbit (Martin et al. 1951). Is palatable to livestock and is usually grazed in tame pastures.

Natural History

This annual grass is palatable to livestock but because it is an annual, produces over a short period. In prairie, warm-season annuals are rare. It is a native of Europe that has naturalized in most of the United States, primarily in disturbed areas. The PLANTS database lists Pennisetum glaucum (occurring in Louisiana and Oregon and usually listed as a synonym) as a separate species from Setaria glauca (USDA 1998).


Cultivated soils and waste places.