Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Common name: Nimblewill
Scientific name: Muhlenbergia schreberi J. F. Gmel.

Life Cycle: Perennial
Origin: United States
Poisonous: No

Nimblewill is a warm-season perennial grass that is widespread across the eastern United States. It is a commonly occurring plant in many types of pastures and turf, but especially in Kentucky bluegrass. This stolon- (stem tissue that grows along the ground) producing grass can generate dense stands because the stolons root at the nodes and produce dense, fibrous root systems.

The leaf blades are smooth with few hairs and are a grayish-green color with a loosely spreading growth habit. Nimblewill emerges in the spring and grows throughout the summer. It thrives under a wide range of climatic conditions, especially during the dry summer months usually encountered in Kentucky. The plant turns brown in winter, and many horse pasture managers consider it unsightly.

One reason that nimblewill persists in pastures is because horses, and other animals, rarely eat this plant. Mowing is ineffective as a control tactic. Currently, there is not an herbicide available that will control the nimblewill without severely damaging desirable pasture grasses.

Consult your local Cooperative Extension Service personnel for information on nimblewill in your area.

William W. Witt, PhD, professor emeritus in the department of plant and soil sciences at the University of Kentucky, provided this information.


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