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Photo Credit:  Steve Dewey, Utah State University, retrieved from (Image Number: 1459334), use under CC BY 3.0 US, modified from the original

Common Name: Medusahead

Scientific Name: Taeniatherum caput-medusae

Habitat: dry grassland, roadsides, farmland, disturbed areas

Provincial Designation: Prohibited Noxious

Prohibited noxious weeds are plant species that are designated as "prohibited noxious" in the Alberta weed regulation. Prohibited noxious weeds must be destroyed, meaning all growing parts need to be killed or the plants reproductive mechanisms need to be rendered non-viable.


Medusahead is a grass species native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. It was likely introduced to North America by accident and was first recorded in Oregon in 1887.

Legislated Because

Medusahead out-competes native species and forms dense populations. It forms a dense layer of litter that prevents germination of seeds from other species.


This grass grows 25-50 cm tall and has very distinctive flowering spikes. They are 1-5 cm long and have very long awns that are up to 10 cm long.

The spikes stay green longer than most of the other grasses. The awns become twisted when they dry, giving the grass its name.

Medusahead grows in dry and open areas and can be found together with downy brome.

Learn more about this species:

SeeFact Sheets - Alberta Invasive Species Council

For More Information

Weed Management


In Edmonton: 311

Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311


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