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The following quote is from the short story 1934年的逃亡 by Su Tong.

陈宝年心中长出一棵灰暗的狗尾巴草,他在祖宗像前跪拜天地的时候,不时蜷起尖锐的五指,狠掐女人伸给他的手。

What does it mean to grow a Setaria_viridis in one's heart?

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狗尾巴草 is a kind of weed against which peasants need to fight all the time, and it is famous for its strong vitality. So peasants and poets see 狗尾巴草 as a tough enemy. For a long time, 狗尾巴草 is called 莠 and had appeared in ancient poems and articles. Of course, its image is bad and negative.

In the paragraph you mentioned, 灰暗 plus 狗尾巴草 together imply evil thoughts.

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    Yes, these weeds are like politicians; the more you hate them, the faster they grow. Jun 15 at 3:13
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狗尾巴草 Setaria viridis ,古稱「莠」,令人想到「良莠不齊」

Therefore, 在人們心中印象便是不好

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The hidden meanings of 狗尾草 are as follow:

"狗尾草很普通,不被人注意,也不被重视,只是一棵默默无闻的野草,但是它的生命力十分顽强,它的寓意是坚忍、暗恋,不被人了解的爱、艰难的爱,狗尾巴草寓意着喜欢一个人却不敢表白,它还象征着坚忍的品格,不为环境所屈服,不可轻言放弃。在生活中我们也应该学习狗尾巴草的品格和精神,不言弃、坚强、坚忍"

If you read through the story, you shall be able to pick one implication that fits the best.

https://news.huamu.com/huahuibaike/19746.html

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心中长出一棵灰暗的狗尾巴草

We can take the whole phrase to mean a sin growing from the bottom of his heart.

灰暗的狗尾巴草 just gives us a bad feeling/impression about his mind and here is metaphorically representing a (dark)sin.

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