Billion-dollar Grass (Frumentacea)

The Billion-dollar Grass (Frumentacea) is generally described as an annual graminoid. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Billion-dollar Grass (Frumentacea) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Billion-dollar Grass (Frumentacea) will reach up to 3.9 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Billion-dollar Grass (Frumentacea) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a rapid ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below 37°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Billion-dollar grass is an exceptional wildlife plant. It is a choice duck food and is eaten by 17 species of Northeastern waterfowl. This food is also used by five upland game birds and many non-game birds such as sparrows, finches, and cardinals. Leaves and seedheads are eaten by rabbits and muskrats. As an erosion control plant it is used as a quick growing companion crop with perennial grasses and legumes and is especially suited to wet sites.

General Characteristics

Billion-dollar grass is an introduced annual. It has coarse leaves and varies from one to five feet in height depending on available moisture and fertility. The seed-head is a compact panicle-type infloresence four to eight inches long, purplish in color, with awnless seed. Conversely, wild barnyard grass has seed with conspicuous awns and a more open-branched panicle. Billion-dollar grass produces a much heavier seed yield than the wild species. There are approximately 155,000 seeds per pound.

Required Growing Conditions

This plant is widely adapted to the entire Northeast as it matures in 60-90 days. It grows well in wet soils but will also grow on well-drained upland soils. Billion-dollar grass is somewhat tolerant of low soil pH (4.5) and salinity of 2,000 parts per million.

Cultivation and Care

Seed may be drilled or broadcast and incorporated to a one inch depth on upland sites. In wetland areas, draw down water levels and broadcast seed on top of wet ground. Seeding rate for pure stands is 20 lbs./acre when drilled and 25-30 lbs./acre if broadcast. In a mixture reduce rate to 8-12 lbs./acre. Planting is recommended after the last killing frost in the spring. The seeding date may be timed to synchronize the maturity date of seed with the fall migration of specific migratory birds.

General Upkeep and Control

As an upland food source, plant in pure stands as a field crop. For waterfowl, wetland areas planted in the spring should not be reflooded until the plants are at least six inches tall. Flood to 12-18 inches during the migratory season. Replant annually.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) ‘Chiwapa’ (India) is the only named variety, which was developed at the Coffeville, Mississippi Plant Materials Center and is appropriate only for the southeastern region of the country.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring
Growth Duration Annual
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3.9
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Green
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Rapid
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature 37
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate None
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.7–7.4 pH
Precipitation Range 18–18 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Minimum Frost-Free Days 150 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA