Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Panicum virgatum


Switchgrass, Wand panic grass


Poaceae (Grass Family)



Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)
Romfh, Peggy
Clump-forming, warm-season grass with open, lacy sprays with small seeds, Aug-Oct. Purple stigmas at flowering time. Switchgrass is a 3-6 ft., rhizomatous, loose sod former with a large, open, finely textured, reddish-purple seedhead. Fall color is pale yellow. Bright green leaves occur up and down the stem, turning bright yellow in fall. Switchgrass is a perennial. Grows in large clumps, with many persistent, curly leaves.

Switchgrass is one of the dominant species of the tallgrass prairie, but also grows along roadsides where moisture is present. The rich, yellow-colored clumps last throughout the winter.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Leaf Margin: Entire
Inflorescence: Panicle
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Leaf: Green
Flower:
Fruit:
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Pollinated by wind.

Distribution

USA: AL , AZ , AR , CO , CT , DE , FL , GA , HI , ID , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , MS , MO , MT , NE , NV , NH , NJ , NM , NY , NC , ND , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VT , VA , WV , WI , WY , DC
Canada: MB , NS , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Que. to Sask. & MT, s. through FL to Cuba, & through all but the westernmost US, continuing through much of Mexico to Central America. Most common in the central plains of North America.
Native Habitat: Dry or moist prairies; bluffs; stream banks; open woods. In moist and seasonally damp open places throughout Texas, except for Trans-Pecos. Sand, loam, clay, limestone; poor drainage okay.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Dry to moist soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based.
Conditions Comments: Clump-forming, warm-season grass with open, lacy sprays with small seeds. Switchgrass is a loose sod former with a large, open, finely textured, reddish-purple seedhead. Bright green leaves occur up and down the stem, turning bright yellow in fall.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Attractive, Fall conspicuous, Pocket prairie, Grows in clumps, Accent
Use Wildlife: Fair Grazing; Seeds eaten by ground-feeding songbirds and game birds; Provides cover and nesting material.
Use Other: Used for range re-seeding.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Delaware Skipper. The Grass Family is an essential larval host for most banded skippers and most of the satyrs.
Deer Resistant: High

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Panicum virgatum is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Delaware Skipper
(Anatrytone logan)

Food Source
Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Dotted Skipper
(Hesperia attalus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2014-10-02