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Ohio State University Extension


Johnsongrass (Sorgum halepense)

Description: A tall rhizomatous grass in the Grass family (Poaceae) that grows in dense clumps or nearly solid stands that can reach up to 8 feet in height.

Life cycle: Perennial

Habitat: Occurs in crop fields, pastures, abandoned fields, rights-of-way, forest edges, ditches and wetlands. It thrives in open, disturbed, rich, bottom ground, particularly in cultivated fields.

Flower: Large, loosely branched, purplish, hairypanicles.

Leaf: Smooth lanceolate with a white mid vein.

Stem: Smooth, pink to rusty red near the base.

Root: Fibrous. Rhizomes are found close to the soil surface. They are stout with purple spots and scales at the nodes.

The problem is….Johnsongrass spreads aggressively and can form dense colonies, displacing native vegetation and restricting tree seedling establishment.


Johnsongrass, Chris Evans, University of Illinois.

Johnsongrass stem, Chris Evans, University of Illinois

Johnsongrass with seed head, Steve Dewey, Utah State University.

Johnsongrass roots, Chris Evans, University of Illinois