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CommentsThis is one of the dominant grasses of the tallgrass prairie. Like the other dominant grasses, Switchgrass has a C4 metabolism that enables it to withstand summer weather that is hot and dry. This is the tallest and most robust Panicum sp. (Panic Grass) in Illinois, and it can be distinguished from most of the others by its size. One common species with a similar appearance that can become almost as large is Panicum dichotomiflorum (Fall Panicum). This latter species is hairless or mostly hairless like Switch Grass, but its spikelets are smaller in size (2-3 mm.) than those of Switch Grass. Furthermore, the first glumes of Fall Panicum are about one-fourth the length of their spikelets, while the first glumes of Switch Grass are about two-thirds the length of their spikelets. Other tall-growing Panic Grasses have hairier sheaths and/or leaves, and they have smaller spikelets than Switch Grass as well. With the increase in the price of gasoline, Switch Grass is being evaluated as a possible source of alcohol, which would be used as an alternative fuel. Apparently, it can produce more alcohol per acre than corn and doesn't require replanting in the spring because of its perennial habit.