Egyptian crowfoot grass (Dactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) Willd.) is a tufted, slightly stoloniferous annual or short-lived perennial grass, up to 75 cm high. It is much branched. The stems are slender, erect or geniculate, and ascending. The stolons may creep and they root from the lower nodes. Roots are horizontal. The leaves are broadly linear, 3-25 cm long, 3-15 mm broad, somewhat succulent and crisp. The inflorescences are borne at the apex of the stem. They are typically digitate or subdigitate and arranged in 2 to 6 unilateral, horizontal spikes. The seeds are angular, wrinkled or rugose, white or brown in colour and about 1 mm long. Egyptian crowfoot grass is highly variable. The seed heads are typical, looking like a crow’s foot, hence the name "Egyptian crowfoot grass" (Quattrocchi, 2006; Bogdan, 1977; Bartha, 1970).
Dactyloctenium aegyptium is a multipurpose grass. It is a mainly used as fodder and relished by all classes of ruminants. In semi-arid areas it makes valuable annual pastures as well as excellent hay. It is also suitable for silage (Bogdan, 1977; Bartha, 1970). The seeds can be fed to poultry or used to make alcoholic beverages, and are eaten by humans in periods of food scarcity. They have ethno-medicinal properties and may be used as a fish poison (Prota, 2013).
Dactyloctenium giganteum B. S. Fisher & Schweick., a close relative of Dactyloctenium aegyptium, is a taller grass with a slightly different inflorescence (the spikes are suberect and not horizontally spreading). It is found in East and South Africa where it is used to improve the productivity of sandveld pastures (Bogdan, 1977).