What Is Scorpion Grass?

Myosoton aquaticum

Have you ever noticed grass with curled leaves popping up all over your yard?

It seems to be spreading quickly and taking over other plants.

That aggressive grass is called scorpion grass, an invasive species in many areas.

This article will discuss scorpion grass and provide effective methods to remove it so you have a good resource for tackling this unwelcome plant.

What Is Scorpion Grass?

Scorpion grass, also known by its scientific name Myosoton aquaticum, is a unique-looking grassy plant that earns its common name from the shape of its leaves.

As the name implies, the leaves are long, narrow, and pointed, like a scorpion’s tail.

Scorpion grass is a member of the sedge plant family, making it only distantly related to true grasses.

This perennial herb forms dense clumps or tufts of strap-like green leaves that emerge directly from its rootstock.

The triangular hollow stems can grow from six inches to over two feet tall. Small white flowers bloom in clusters at the stem tips in spring or early summer.

By late summer, the leaves tend to curl over, giving the plant a more scorpion-like silhouette.

Scorpion grass is naturally found in wetland areas like ditches, meadows, stream banks, and lakeshores throughout Europe and Asia.

It has been introduced elsewhere as an invasive species that spreads quickly via underground rhizomes and seeds.

This plant thrives in moist, nutrient-rich soil and full sun to partial shade.

The Scorpion

Scorpion grass is named after the Danish word “skorpion,” meaning scorpion. Those pointy leaves do resemble a scorpion’s curled tail!

Despite its unusual appearance, scorpion grass has some practical uses, including the following:

  • Thatching – Its stems have traditionally been used for thatching roofs.
  • Basketry – In some areas, the strong yet pliable stems have been used for thatching, baskets, and mats.
  • Cordage – The stems can also be made into durable ropes.
  • Food – The foliage covers wildlife like insects, birds, and small mammals.
  • Traditional Medicine – Various herbalists have valued certain parts for potential medicinal properties, like acting as a diuretic or treating lung diseases.

Where Does Scorpion Grass Grow?

Scoprion grass
Source: Wikimedia

Here’s where the Scorpion grass grows.

Coastal Dunes and Beaches

Scorpion grass is well-adapted to grow in coastal dunes and beaches.

Its extensive root system can firmly secure the plant in loose sandy soils with strong winds.

Its long, narrow leaves also allow it to thrive in sunny, exposed conditions near the ocean shoreline where few other plants can take root.

Oak Woodlands and Forests

Scorpion grass prefers damp, partial-shade habitats under trees in oak woodlands and forests.

Its ability to form dense tufts alongside tree roots helps prevent soil erosion.

The curled leaves also collect moisture from fog and humid shade.

Rocky Hillsides

Scorpion grass can root in narrow crevices between stones on rocky hillsides with little soil.

Its wiry stems and roots cling tightly to nooks within the hard landscape.

Additionally, scorpion grass thrives in the sunny, well-draining conditions on hills.

Desert Washes and Canyons

Scorpion grass is adapted to intermittent water conditions in desert washes and canyons.

During brief flash floods, its roots can take advantage of moisture in the sandy streams.

Its wiry stems and leaves allow scorpion grass to survive the ensuing dry periods.

Along Roadsides and Trails

Roadsides and trails provide an ideal disturbed habitat for scorpion grass to spread.

Its small seeds easily attach to vehicle tires or shoes to hitch rides along the gravel.

How To Kill Scorpion Grass?

Myosoton aquaticum
Source: Wikimedia

Here’s how to eliminate Scorpion grass.

Method #1: Cutting/Mowing

Repeated cutting or mowing can effectively kill scorpion grass over time.

The top growth should be cut as close to the ground as possible at least once a month during the growing season.

After several cutting cycles throughout the summer, the roots will weaken, and scorpion grass plants should die off completely.

Method #2: Mulching

Smothering scorpion grass with a thick layer of mulch blocks its ability to photosynthesize.

At least two to four inches of mulch, like bark chips or shredded leaves, is applied over the entire infested area.

This prevents sunlight from reaching scorpion grass leaves.

The oxygen-deprived roots will die off within several months as the mulch layer stays intact.

Method #3: Solarization

Solarization uses the sun’s intense heat to kill scorpion grass roots and rhizomes.

Clear plastic sheeting is laid directly over the soil in summer to trap heat levels up to 160°F (70°C) beneath the surface.

Constant exposure to these high temperatures for four to six weeks causes fatal damage through cellular breakdown.

Method #4: Flooding

Saturating scorpion grass-infested soil continuously with several inches of standing water can drown out the invasive plants.

Flooding for two to four weeks deprives the underground roots and rhizomes of oxygen.

Without this essential element, the tissues break down, and scorpion grass dies.


This scorpion grass plant may look unusual, but it can tell us much about how nature adapts over time.

While it spreads too fast in some places, it benefits wildlife and people when used correctly.

The best way to manage it is to go at its pace and use its weaknesses.

With some work, we can encourage more native species to thrive together again.

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