Eleusine indica is a summer annual, C4 grass (Downton 1971), from fibrous roots; stems flattened, usually in a mat-like rosette, spreading to sometimes upright, 30-60 cm long, branched from base; sheaths flattened, whitish, hairy on margins, with a tuft of hairs on either side at top; ligule membranous, 0.1-0.2 cm, split down center.
Leaves rather wide, coarse, 5-20 cm long, 0.3-0.6 cm wide, folded along midrib, smooth, base of blade white around ligule.
Flower spikes, 4-10 cm long, 0.5 cm wide, with fine, regularly toothed, zipper-like profile, spikelets several flowered, flat, in 2 rows (zipper teeth) along one side of rachis; spikelets crowded, about 0.5 cm long, 3-6 flowered; inflorescence of 2-8 one-sided, flattened spikes, radiating from top of inflorescence stalk; blooms July-Sept.
Fruit dry 1-seeded. Fruiting inflorescence persistent into winter.
Wetland status: FACU-.
Frequency in NYC: Frequent.
Origin: Old-world, now pan-tropical.
Habitat: Ubiquitous summer weed on any open, disturbed soil, sidewalk cracks, around street trees, curbs, edges of lots, vacant areas.
Notes: Soon shaded out in undisturbed habitats. Tolerant of mowing, drought, and soil compaction (Uva et al. 1997). Intolerant of shade. Appearing similar to Digitalis sp. but leaves of E. indica strongly folded along midrib.