Witchgrass

Encyclopedia Article

Witchgrass          Panicum capillare L.

Family:  Poaceae
Life cycle:  Annual
Native status:  Native to North America
Habitat:  Disturbed habitats, horticultural settings, crop fields

General description:  Erect or decumbent, tillering plant reaching heights of 2 to 3 feet.  Hairy ligule; stems, sheaths, and leaves densely covered with long, stiff hairs. Seedhead is a large, open panicle with relatively small seed.

Key ID traits:  Leaf sheaths are covered with dense, stiff hairs; leaves hairy on both surfaces.

Similar species:  Large crabgrass has sheaths covered with stiff hairs, but crabgrass has membranous ligule and usually a more decumbent growth habit.  Sheaths of fall panicum seedlings are covered with hairs, but become smooth as the plant grows.

Miscellaneous:  Germinates later in the season than the foxtails, so much less common in crop fields.


Leaf sheaths and blades are covered with dense, stiff hairs.

inflorescence is a densely branched panicle resembling a witch's broom
Inflorescence is a densely branched panicle resembling a witch's broom

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