Dichanthelium scoparium

From Coastal Plain Plants Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Common Names: velvet panicum [1]; velvet panic grass [2]; velvet witchgrass

Dichanthelium scoparium
Dichanthelium scoparium AFP.jpg
Photo by the Atlas of Florida Plants Database
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Moncots
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Dichanthelium
Species: D. scoparium
Binomial name
Dichanthelium scoparium
(Lamarck) Gould
Natural range of Dichanthelium scoparium from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Taxonomic Notes

Synonyms: Panicum scoparium Lamarck.[3]

Varieties: none[3]


D. scoparium is a perennial gaminoid of the Poaceae family that is native to North America. [1] It can be identified by its dense and velvety pubescence that can be found on the internodes, sheaths, and blades of this plant, as well as the viscid band that is below the nodes.[3] It has a unique growth pattern where it produces a basal rosette in the fall and winter, and produces stems that develop during the spring. It has a short lifespan compared to other perennials. Stems can reach heights of up to 4 1/2 feet tall, and leaves 1/4 to 1 inch wide.[4] Spring growth usually consists of simple culms that become thick and branched in late season. Flower inflorescence is a panicle.[5]


D. scoparium is commonly found across the southeastern United States, reaching as far west as Texas, and along the east coast up into New England.[1] It is also native to Mexico as well as the West Indies.[3]



Generally, D. scoparium can be found in moist sandy soils of ditches or woodland openings.[3] The bunchgrass prefers coarse to medium textured soils and precipitation of 30 to 55 inches. It is commonly found in sandy woods, low areas, and disturbed regions. This species commonly grows in soils with a range in pH from 4.5 to 7.5, and cannot tolerate any level of salinity.[4] It is found in the USDA hardiness zones ranging from 5b to 10b.[6] Habitats that specimens were collected from include edges of mesic woodlands, moist loamy sands, creek bottoms, boggy pineland, deciduous woods, fresh water marsh, pine flatwoods, near brackish water, along creeks, and woods near ponds.[7]

Associated species: Juncus acuminatus, J. marginatus, J. coriaceus, Pluchea rosea, Scleropis uniflora, Centella asiatica, Eupatorium capillifolium, Coreopsis integrifolia, Vernonia noveboracensis, Hibiscus moscheutos, Ampelopsis sp., Sarracenia minor, Carex lurida, Panicum repens, Saccharum sp., Cephalanthus occidentalis, Rubus pensilvanicus, Cyrilla parviflora, Smilax rotundifolia, Hypericum sp., Rhynchospora sp., and Paspalum sp.[7]


This species generally flowers from May until October.[3] D. scoparium has been observed to flower between May and July.[8] If other Dichanthelium species are growing in the same area, D. scoparium usually will flower later than the others present.[4]

Seed bank and germination

For successful germination, cold stratification is not required.[6]

Fire ecology

Populations of D. scoparium have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[9]

Herbivory and toxicology

Dichanthelium scoparium consists of approximately 2-5% of the diet for large mammals as well as about 10-25% of the diet for various terrestrial birds.[10] It is a source of food for song birds, small mammals, and game birds as well as the basal rosette being a food source for white tailed deer and wild turkey.[4] Most significant use of this species is during the winter.[5]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

This species is listed as endangered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves.[1] For general management, fertilizing before planting D. scoparium can be used, but the soil pH should be kept near 6.0 and nitrogen fertilizer should not be over applied to reduce weed competition. When managing specifically for seed production, mowing in the spring to clip off the last year's growth will bring the best results. Seed harvesting can be conducted in the summertime with a flail vac or a combine. As well, fall seeds can be harvested with a combine when the seeds are in the spikelet sheath. Finally if managing for seed production, D. scoparium can hybridize with D. acuminatum or D. dichotomum if these species are in the same area.[4]

D. scoparium can be utilized for erosion control along timber harvest areas and roadsides due to its high tolerance for low pH conditions.[6] It has been used as a revegetation source when working to restore a disturbed area.[1] A selected material of this species includes the Pilgrim Germplasm velvet panicum (D. scoparium) that was released in 2007 by the East Texas Plant Materials Center for the southeast. It is a selected class for both wildlife and critical area seedings.[4]

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 USDA Plant Database
  2. Cipollini, M. L., et al. (2012). "Herbaceous plants and grasses in a mountain longleaf pine forest undergoing restoration: a survey and comparative study." Southeastern Naturalist 11: 637-668.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Brakie, M. 2007. Plant fact sheet for velvet panicum Dichanthelium scoparium (Lam.) Gould. USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, East Texas Plant Materials Center, Nacogdoches, TX 75964.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gee, K. L., et al. (1994). White-tailed deer: their foods and management in the cross timbers. Ardmore, OK, Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Brakie, M. 2007. Plant Guide for velvet panicum [Dichanthelium scoparium (Lam.) Gould]. USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, East Texas Plant Materials Center, Nacodoches, TX 75964
  7. 7.0 7.1 URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: June 2018. Collectors: States and counties: Florida (Wakulla, Calhoun, Bay, Gulf, Holmes, Liberty, Washinton, Leon, Jackson, Houston, Franklin, Nassau, Duval, Escambia, St. Johns, Madison), Arkansas (Saline, Pope), Georgia (Thomas, Oglethrope, Camden, Sumter), Louisiana (Oachita, Washington, St. Landry, Tangipahoa, Union), Virginia (Dinwiddie, Virginia Beach, Prine Edward), Mississippi (Jones, Smith, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Hancock), Alabama (Montgomery), Texas (Freestone), South Carolina (Clarendon, Georgetown, McCormick), North Carolina (Nash), Oklahoma (Pushmataha),
  8. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. www.gilnelson.com/PanFlora/ Accessed: 21 MAY 2018
  9. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  10. Miller, J.H., and K.V. Miller. 1999. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. Southern Weed Science Society.