SWITCHGRASS
File Size: 81 KB
 
Panicum virgatum  L.
Riley County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 2-7 feet
Family: Poaceae - Grass Family
Flowering Period:   August, September
Culms: Erect, solitary or clumped, usually un-branched above base, firm, glabrous.
Blades: Flat, narrow, 4 to 24 inches long, to 3/5 inch wide, nearly glabrous, leaf base with triangular patch of hair on upper surface.
Sheaths: Shorter than internodes, glabrous, often reddish or purplish at bases.
Ligules: Dense fringes of hairs.
Inflorescences: Panicles, open, much-branched, ovate to pyramidal, 6 to 20 inches long, usually 1/3 to 1/2 as wide as long; branches long, ascending or spreading, bearing spikelets near ends.
Spikelets: Short-stalked, 2-flowered, egg-shaped, to 1/4 inch long, swollen, prominently nerved, tapered to sharp points; glumes unequal; lemmas 1 fertile, 1 staminate or sterile; awns absent.
Habitat: Moist, open lowland prairies, sand prairies, and open woods, on broad range of soils.
Distribution: Throughout Kansas.
Forage Value: Switchgrass is very nutritious and is readily consumed by livestock. Palatability declines rapidly as plant matures. Switchgrass makes good hay when cut young.
Uses: Many birds and mammals eat the seeds and foliage and use the plant for cover.
Comments: Strongly rhizomatous. The roots are quite vigorous, sometimes growing 10-11 feet long.

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Switchgrass spikelets
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Switchgrass ligule
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Switchgrass anthers
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Switchgrass leaf base
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