Jointed goatgrass - Aegilops cylindrica

Weed Seed: Jointed Goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrica)

Jointed goatgrass is an invasive plant that competes with crops for water and nutrients, thus reducing the quality and yield of wheat and other crops. It is difficult to control in wheat because jointed goatgrass and wheat are genetically related; the two species have similar growth habits and are known to cross-pollinate with each other.

Where it's found

To date in Canada, jointed goatgrass has been found only in two small sites within Ontario. It is native to western Asia and southeastern Europe. It was introduced into the United States in contaminated seed in the 1880s, and has since become one of the most difficult weeds to control in the western states. Jointed goatgrass grows in cultivated fields, pastures and disturbed areas along fences, ditches and roadsides.

What it looks like

To the untrained eye, jointed goatgrass resembles common grasses that grow in Canada. It is an annual grass, 40–60 cm tall, resembling wheat. Unlike wheat, however, jointed goatgrass has narrow cylindrical spikes and evenly spaced hairs extending from its leaf blades. The spikes are composed of a series of spikelets, each with a long bristle containing seeds. The spikes are partially embedded in the stem.

How it spreads

Jointed goatgrass seeds spread primarily as a contaminant in wheat seed. They can also spread with farm machinery and when mixed in with grain, seed or straw.


Jointed goatgrass is regulated as a pest in Canada under the Plant Protection Act. It is also listed as a prohibited noxious weed in the Weed Seeds Order, 2016 under the Seeds Act. Importation and domestic movement of regulated plants and their propagative parts is prohibited.

What you can do about it

  • Use clean grain, hay and straw.
  • Use clean, high-quality seed that is certified if possible.
  • Ensure machinery, vehicles and tools are free of soil and plant parts before moving them from one area to another.
  • Contact your local Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) office if you suspect you have found this invasive plant. The CFIA will follow up and determine if further action is needed.

Learn more about invasive species.

Jointed goatgrass plants
Jointed goatgrass plants
Attribution: Sam Brinker, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Information Centre (OMNR-NHIC)
Jointed goatgrass spike
Jointed goatgrass spike
Attribution: Sam Brinker, OMNR-NHIC
Jointed goatgrass hairs along leaf margins
Jointed goatgrass hairs along leaf margins
Attribution: Steve Dewey, Utah State University
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