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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This grass is a summer annual about ¾–3' tall that is usually tufted at the base, sending up multiple leafy culms from the same crown, otherwise it is unbranched or sparingly so. The culms are light green, terete, and nearly hairless to hairy. The alternate leaves are more common toward the base of the culms. Their blades are up to 10" long, up to 16 mm. across, and rather floppy; they are light to medium green and variably hairy, often becoming rather ragged in appearance with age. The upper blade surface is hairless to densely covered with appressed hairs, while the lower blade surface has a few scattered hairs along the central vein, or it is moderately to densely covered with long spreading hairs. The leaf sheaths are light green to reddish green, longitudinally veined, and densely covered with long spreading hairs; they are wrapped rather loosely around the culms. The ligules are short-hairy. Each culm terminates in a strongly branched panicle of solitary spikelets that is little-exerted from the uppermost leaf. Immature panicles are funnel-shaped with a dense concentration of branchlets and spikelets. Mature panicles are globular-ovoid in outline and airy in appearance from the widely spreading branchlets; they are up to 1½' long and 1' across. Mature panicles often comprise about one-half of the length of the entire plant. The light green rachis (central axis) of the panicle is hairy, particularly at the swollen nodes where the primary branches occur. These branches divide into slender branchlets; they are light green, rather wiry, stiff, and scabrous (rough-textured). The branchlets ultimately terminate in solitary spikelets with short pedicels. The spikelets of the typical variety of Witch Grass are about 2.0–2.5 mm. long, ellipsoid-ovoid in shape, and hairless; they taper gradually to beak-like tips. The scales of each spikelet consist of a short glume, a long glume (that looks like a lemma), and a single fertile lemma. The short glume is about one-third of the length of the spikelet, while the long glume is the same length as the spikelet and the lemma is a little shorter than the spikelet. The short glume is broadly ovate in shape; it often becomes pale purple, otherwise the scales of the spikelet are light green. The blooming period occurs during late summer and early fall, lasting about 2 weeks for a colony of plants. The perfect florets of the lemmas are either cross-pollinated by the wind or they are self-fertile. Shortly afterwards, the panicles and their spikelets become light tan. The entire panicle can detach from the plant and roll across the ground like a tumbleweed, distributing the grains. Each spikelet produces a single grain. The grains are about 1.5 mm. long, broadly ellipsoid in shape, slightly flattened, and pointed at both ends. The root system is fibrous. This grass spreads by reseeding itself. It often occurs as widely scattered plants in a given habitat, or it may form dense colonies that are dominated by the airy panicles.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution: Pakistan (Baluchistan; naturalised); North America.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Annuals, Terrestrial, not aquatic, Stems nodes swollen or brittle, Stems erect or ascending, Stems geniculate, decumbent, or lax, sometimes rooting at nodes, Stems caespitose, tufted, or clustered, Stems terete, round in cross section, or polygonal, Stems branching above base or distally at nodes, Stem nodes bearded or hairy, Plants conspicuously hairy, grayish, or wooly, Stem internodes hollow, Stems with inflorescence less than 1 m tall, Stems, culms, or scapes exceeding basal leaves, Leaves mostly cauline, Leaves conspicuously 2-ranked, distichous, Leaves sheathing at base, Leaf sheath mostly open, or loose, Leaf sheath hairy, hispid or prickly, Leaf sheath hairy at summit, throat, or collar, Leaf sheath and blade differentiated, Leaf blades linear, Leaf blades lanceolate, Leaf blades 2-10 mm wide, Leaf blades 1-2 cm wide, Leaf blades mostly flat, Leaf blades more or less hairy, Leaf blades scabrous, roughened, or wrinkled, Ligule present, Ligule a fringed, ciliate, or lobed membrane, Inflorescence terminal, Inflorescence an open panicle, openly paniculate, branches spreading, Inflorescence solitary, with 1 spike, fascicle, glomerule, head, or cluster per stem or culm, Inflorescence branches more than 10 to numerous, Flowers bisexual, Spikelets pedicellate, Spikelets dorsally compressed or terete, Spikelet less than 3 mm wide, Spikelets with 1 fertile floret, Spikelet s with 2 florets, Spikelet with 1 fertile floret and 1-2 sterile florets, Spikelets solitary at rachis nodes, Spikelets all alike and fertille, Spikelets bisexual, Spikelets disarticulating below the glumes, Rachilla or pedicel glabrous, Glumes present, empty bracts, Glumes 2 clearly present, Glumes distinctly unequal, Glumes equal to or longer than adjacent lemma, Glume equal to or longer than spikelet, Glumes 3 nerved, Glumes 4-7 nerved, Lemma similar in texture to glumes, Lemma 5-7 nerved, Lemma glabrous, Lemma apex acute or acuminate, Lemma awnless, Lemma margins inrolled, tightly covering palea and caryopsis, Lemma straight, Palea present, well developed, Palea about equal to lemma, Stamens 3, Styles 2-fid, deeply 2-branched, Stigmas 2, Fruit - caryopsis, Caryopsis ellipsoid, longitudinally grooved, hilum long-linear.
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Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Description

Tufted, densely hispid annual (rarely almost glabrous); culms 20-80 cm high, erect or ascending. Leaf-blades linear to narrowly lanceolate, 7-30 cm long, 5-14 mm wide, flat, sharply pointed. Panicle broadly ovate or broadly oblong, 15-50 cm long, the branches filiform, bearing spikelets on long capillary pedicels, the whole inflorescence eventually disarticulating. Spikelets elliptic or oblong, 1.8-2.5(3.3) mm long, glabrous, acute or acuminate; lower glume broadly ovate, membranous, a third to half the length of the spikelet, 3-nerved, obtuse, acute or slightly acuminate; upper glume 5-7-nerved; lower lemma 5-7-nerved, its palea about half as long; upper lemma pallid or yellowish to olive-brown, smooth and shining.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Type Information

Type fragment for Panicum bobarti Lam.
Catalog Number: US 80487
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. Bobart
Locality: West Falls Church, Fairfax, Virginia, United States, North America
  • Type fragment: Lamarck, J. B. A. 1798. Encycl. 4: 748.
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Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Type fragment for Panicum capillare var. agreste Gatt.
Catalog Number: US 80554
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. Gattinger
Year Collected: 1882
Locality: Ridge Top., Sumner, Tennessee, United States, North America
  • Type fragment: Gattinger, A. 1887. Tennessee Fl. 94.
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Type fragment for Panicum acutifolium Willd. ex Spreng.
Catalog Number: US 80446
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): F. W. Humboldt
Locality: Cumanacoa., Venezuela, South America
  • Type fragment: Sprengel, C. P. J. 1825. Syst. Veg. (ed. 16). 1: 320.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Panicum barbipulvinatum Nash in Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 360520
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): P. A. Rydberg & E. Bessey
Year Collected: 1897
Locality: Yellowstone Nat'l Pk., lower Geyser Basin., Teton, Wyoming, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 1500 to 2500
  • Isotype: Nash, G. V. 1900. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 1: 21.
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Type fragment for Panicum barbipulvinatum Nash in Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 80483
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): P. A. Rydberg & E. Bessey
Year Collected: 1897
Locality: Geyser basin, Yellowstone National Park., Teton, Wyoming, United States, North America
  • Type fragment: Nash, G. V. 1900. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 1: 21.
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Isotype for Panicum barbipulvinatum var. hirsutipes Suksd.
Catalog Number: US 1061913
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. N. Suksdorf
Year Collected: 1916
Locality: N bank of Spokane River near Spokane Bridge., Spokane, Washington, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Suksdorf, W. N. 1927. Werdenda. 1: 17.
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Holotype for Panicum capillare var. brevifolium Vasey ex Rydb. & Shear
Catalog Number: US 80525
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): C. L. Shear
Year Collected: 1895
Locality: Manhattan., Gallatin, Montana, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Rydberg, P. A. & Shear, C. L. 1817. U.S.D.A. Div. Agrostol. Bull. 5: 21.
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Type fragment for Panicum capillare L.
Catalog Number: US 80553
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. Clayton
Locality: West Falls Church, Fairfax, Virginia, United States, North America
  • Type fragment: Linnaeus, C. 1753. Sp. Pl. 58.
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Isotype for Panicum capillare var. occidentale Rydb.
Catalog Number: US 208294
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): P. A. Rydberg
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Lake region, 1 mi W of Whitman on dry lake., Grant, Nebraska, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Rydberg, P. A. 1895. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 3: 186.
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Ecology

Associations

Faunal Associations

The caterpillars of several skippers feed on the foliage of panic grasses (Panicum spp.), including Hesperia sassacus (Indian Skipper), Poanes hobomok (Hobomok Skipper), Polites themistocles (Tawny-Edged Skipper), and Wallengrenia egremet (Northern Broken-Dash); also larvae of the leaf-miner moths Elachista radiantella and Elachista solitaria feed on these grasses (Bouseman et al., 2006; Needham et al., 1926). Other insect feeders include Chaetocnema denticulata (Toothed Flea Beetle) and Chaetocnema pulicaria (Corn Flea Beetle), leaf-mining larvae of the beetle Glyphuroplata pluto, larvae of the fly Cerodontha dorsalis (Grass Sheath Miner), stem-inhabiting larvae of the gall fly Calamomyia panici, the stilt bug Jalysus spinosus, the plant bugs Collaria meilleuri and Collaria oculata, the stink bugs Euschistus servus and Oebalus pugnax, and such grasshoppers as Phoetaliotes nebrascensis (Large-headed Grasshopper), Spharagemon collare (Mottled Sand Grasshopper), and Arphia sulphurea (Sulphur-winged Grasshopper). More more information, see Clark et al. (2004), Needham et al. (1928), Felt (1917), Froeschner (1942), Wheeler et al. (1983), Rider (2009), Brust et al. (2008), and Gangwere (1965). Several aphids suck plant juices from Witch Grass (Kieckheffer & Lunden, 1983). These aphids include Macrosiphum avenae (English Grain Aphid), Rhopalosiphum maidis (Corn Leaf Aphid), Rhopalosiphum padi (Bird Cherry & Oat Aphid), and Schizaphis graminum (Greenbug). The seeds of panic grasses are an important source of food to upland gamebirds and granivorous songbirds (see Bird Table). The foliage is occasionally eaten by rabbits and hoofed mammalian herbivores, especially when it is young and tender. According to Muenscher (1955), the seeds of Witch Grass have the capacity to pass through the digestive tracts of horses, cattle, swine, and sheep while remaining viable. Thus, these animals help to spread this weedy grass into new areas.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flower/Fruit

Fl. & Fr. Per.: July-August.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Panicum capillare

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 15
Specimens with Barcodes: 33
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Panicum riparium

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun, mesic to dry conditions, and a barren soil that contains sand, gravel, or hard-pan clay. Alkaline soil is readily tolerated. The fertility of the soil and moisture level influence the size of individual plants. Because this grass has a C4 metabolism, most growth and development occur during the summer and early autumn. Periods of hot dry weather are readily tolerated. Range & Habitat
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Wikipedia

Panicum capillare

Panicum capillare, known by the common name witchgrass, is a species of grass. It is native plant to most of North America from the East Coast through all of the West Coast and California. It can be found as an introduced species in Eurasia, and as a weed in gardens and landscaped areas.[1] It grows in many types of habitat.

Description[edit]

Panicum capillare is an annual bunchgrass growing decumbent or erect to heights exceeding one meter (3 feet). It is green to blue- or purple-tinged in color. In texture it is quite hairy, especially on the leaves and at the nodes. The ligule is a fringe of long hairs.

The inflorescence is a large open panicle which may be over half the total length of the plant, up to half a meter long. At maturity it fans out, spreading to a width over 20 centimeters. As the plant dies and dries, the panicle may break off whole and becomes a tumbleweed.[2]

References[edit]

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Notes

Comments

Witch grass is a North American species that was apparently accidentally introduced to Pakistan and is now fully established as a weed of cultivated ground ground Ziarat. It belongs to that group of plants, along with Panicum turgidum, known as tumble-weeds. The whole inflorescence breaks off at maturity and is blown about by the wind, scattering its seeds as it goes. The plants in Pakistan belong to var. occidentale Rydb. in Contr. U.S. natn. Herb. 3:186. 1895 (Bor, Grasses Burma Ceyl. Ind. Pak. 332. 1960) differing from the type by their larger spikelets.
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