Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Southern Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Panicum virgatum L.
- Family: Grass (Poaceae)
- Flowering: July-September
- Field Marks: Switchgrass differs from other species of Panicum by its nearly smooth leaves
and sheaths, large size, and by its pointed spikelets.
- Habitat: Prairies, along streams, wet or dry woods, brackish and fresh marshes, sloughs, swales,
low pinelands, shoals.
- Habit: Perennial bunch grass with branching rhizomes.
- Stems: Upright, smooth, branched, up to 7 feet tall.
- Leaves: Elongated, narrow, tapering to a long point, green to blue-green, smooth except for
the roughened edges, up to 1/2 inch wide; sheaths smooth.
- Flowers: Borne singly in pointed spikelets; spikelets many in a large panicle with thread-like
branches; panicle up to 20 inches long.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 3.
- Pistils: Ovary superior.
- Grains: Hard, enclosed by the subtending scales.
- Notes: This is a good forage grass for domestic livestock.
Previous Species -- Witchgrass (Echinochloa walteri)
Return to Species List -- Group 2
Next Species -- Joint Paspalum (Paspalum distichum)