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Foxtail Grass

Foxtail Grass

Setaria species


This weedy grass is readily recognized by the narrow, cylindrical head containing long hairs. Its grains are small, less than 6 millimeters long. The dense heads of grain often droop when ripe.

Habitat and Distribution

Look for foxtail grasses in open, sunny areas, along roads, and at the margins of fields. Some species occur in wet, marshy areas. Species of Setaria are found throughout the United States, Europe, western Asia, and tropical Africa.

In some parts of the world, foxtail grasses are grown as a food crop.

Edible Parts

The grains are edible raw but are very hard and sometimes bitter. Boiling removes some of the bitterness and makes them easier to eat

Steve's notes:

Virtually all true grasses can be used for their edible grain. The foxtail grass has seed heads that are packed with enough seeds to make it more worthwhile than most. Rub the seeds between your hands over a jacket or other piece of cloth, and let the breeze blow away the chaff as the seeds fall onto your collection surface.

While it may not be practical to grind the seeds for flour in a survival situation, you can prepare them in a couple other ways. One is to simply crack them bewteen two roks and roast them in a pan or in a can held over a fire. The other is to add them to a soup of stew or otherwise boil them long enough to soften them up for eating.

You can also pull the stems apart, and eat the white part near the base for a snack.


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Foxtail Grass