Panicum virgatum

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Panicum virgatum
Pani virga.jpg
Photo by James H. Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society,
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Tracheophyta- Vascular plants
Class: Lilianae - Monocotyledons
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Panicum
Species: P. virgatum
Binomial name
Panicum virgatum
Pani virg dist.jpg
Natural range of Panicum virgatum from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Switchgrass; Old switch panicgrass

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Panicum virgatum Linnaeus var. virgatum

Varieties: Panicum virgatum Linnaeus var. cubense Grisebach; Panicum virgatum Linnaeus var. spissum Linder


"Spikelets usually in panicles, round or nearly so in cross section, 2-flowered, terminal fertile, basal sterile, neutral or staminate. First glume usually present, 2nd glume and sterile lemma similar; fertile lemma and palea indurate without hyaline margins. Taxonomically our most difficult and least understood genus of grasses, more than 100 species and varieties are ascribed to the Carolinas by some authors. Note general descriptions for species groups (e.g., 1-4, 5-8, 9-13, and 26-62)." [1]

"Elongate, rhizomatous perennial; culms 5-15 dm tall. Blades to 5 dm long, 1.5-8 mm wide, sparsely pilose above basally; sheaths occasionally pubescent, margins occasionally densely ciliate; ligules ciliate or lacerate, 1.5 mm long. Panicle open, 12-50 cm long, 6-20 cm broad. Spikelets 2.8-4.2 mm long. Frist glume 5-9 nerved, acute to keeled-cuspidate, 1.4-3.0 mm long, 2nd glume and sterile lemma 7-9 nerved, acute to cuspidate, 2.8-4.2 mm long, sterile palea2-2.6 mm long; fertile lemma 2-2.6 mm long. Grain grayish, 1-2 mm long." [1]




P. virgatum has been observed flowering in July and September.[2]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by gravity. [3]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 145. Print.
  2. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 12 DEC 2016
  3. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.