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Redtop (Agrostis gigantea Roth)

Also known as black bent.

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A grass native to Europe and widely introduced in North America. There is some uncertainty about whether or not there may be native populations as well, especially in the northerly regions. The one common name references the reddish color of the seeds.

Range - Expand

Introduced or Not Present

This tentative map is based on our own research. It may have limited data on Canada and/or Mexico, and there is some subjectivity in our assignment of plants as introduced vs. expanded. Read more in this blog post.


Prefers moist grasslands. Tolerates poor soil, especially in fields whose nutrients have been depleted by agriculture. Also tolerates acidic and clay soils, but does not tolerate limestone soils. Widely cultivated as a pasture grass, although its use is decreasing. Benefits from fire and grazing.

Found on moist sites in roadsides, especially roadside ditches, and waste ground, in degraded prairies, as a weed in cultivated fields. Also occurs in some open forests and riparian areas.

Faunal Associations

This species has become a preferred nesting cover for prairie chickens, in response to loss of their native habitat.


Widely planted as a pasture crop and for forage, although its use has declined somewhat.

Sometimes planted to stabilize banks.

Also used on metal-contaminated soils, such as from mining operations, as it is somewhat tolerant of such contamination.

Closely related to Agrostis stolonifera, which is sometimes treated as belonging to the same species. Numerous other Agrostis species, including both native and introduced species, also occur in North America.

Redtop | Fire Effects Information System (FEIS) (About This Site)

Agrostis gigantea (Redtop) | Illinois Wildflowers (About This Site)

Agrostis gigantea (Redtop) | USDA PLANTS Database (About This Site)

Agrostis gigantea | Go Botany (About This Site)

Agrostis gigantea | Biota of North America Project (BONAP) (About This Site)

Agrostis gigantea | NatureServe Explorer (About This Site)

Agrostis gigantea | Flora of North America (About This Site)

Redtop | Maryland Biodiversity Project (About This Site)