Kochia Kochia scoparia L. Goosefoot family

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Kochia scoparia L. Goosefoot family

Key identifying traits

  • Many-branched erect plant 1 to 6 feet tall

  • Leaves are ½-2 inches long, alternate, narrow, lance shaped with hairy margins & undersides

  • Stems round, usually softly hairy & often red-tinged

  • Inconspicuous flowers form dense spikes in leaf axils

  • Flowers are usually surrounded by cluster of long hairs

  • Short, upper flower spikes often nod

Biology and ecology

  • Seeds are generally only viable for 1 or 2 years

  • Flowering and seed production from July through October; several flushes of seedlings per season

  • Common in Western US in cultivated fields, gardens, roadsides, ditchbanks and waste areas

  • Readily grazed by livestock although it sometimes contains high nitrate levels and can be toxic

  • A serious economic problem in crops

  • Drought resistant but does well under irrigation

  • Old plants spread seeds while tumbling


Prevention – Learn to identify plants; know your property; control kochia along fencelines and roadways to reduce seed scatter by tumbling plants

Biological – No known biological controls

Cultural – Competitive vegetation helps avoid invasion and winter wheat withstands kochia better than spring wheat

Mechanical – Grazing and mowing will not stop seed production or kill the plant which will resprout from the stem; pull, hoe or cultivate to kill kochia; shallow tillage helps force seeds to sprout or decay

Chemical – Several effective at label rates, but kochia is often resistant to triazine & sulfonylurea herbicides; rotating herbicides with different modes of action helps prevent resistance development

kochia seedlings can form a solid mat

Where found - Limited numbers of plants but widely scattered distribution in Stevens County; mainly along roadsides, railroad, parking lots, gravel pits and piles, other highly disturbed sites.

Stevens County Noxious Weed control board, February 2000; Updated Jan 2006

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