Ontario Weeds: Witch grass

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. For more information...

Name: Witch grass, Panicum capillare L.,

Other Names: panic capillaire, Capillary, Common witch grass, Hair grass, Old witch grass, Panic grass, Tickle grass, Tumble grass, mousseline

Family: Grass Family (Gramineae)

General Description: Annual, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Witch grass.

Witch grass.

Witch grass.

Witch grass.

Witch grass. A. Base of plant. B. Leaf-base. C. Panicle.

Witch grass. A. Base of plant. B. Leaf-base. C. Panicle.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

 

Stems & Roots: Stems 5-120cm (2in.-4ft) high, erect, or spreading; leaf blades and leaf sheaths densely hairy, the hair 2-3mm (1/12-1/8in.) long and becoming harsh and prickly as the plant matures; leaf sheath split, its margins either separate or overlapping; ligule a dense fringe of hair 1-2mm (1/25-1/12in.) long; no auricles; inflorescence a large, loose, open, fluffy panicle with numerous, very fine branches and tiny spikelets at the ends of those branches; the much-branched panicle often wider than long and, on small- to medium-sized plants, often making up ½ to 2/3 the total height of the plant; mature spikelets 0.7-0.8mm wide by 2.0-2.3mm long (1/35 by 1/12-1/10in.).

Flowers & Fruit: Florets ("seeds") 0.6-0.7mm wide and 1.3-1.4mm long (about 1/40 by 1/16 in.), shiny gray-brown with 5 parallel beige veins. At maturity, the stem breaks easily below the inflorescence and the whole panicle is rolled and tumbled by the wind, dropping seed with every bounce. Flowers from July to September.

Habitat: Witch grass is very common in fields, waste areas, roadsides, backyards, gardens and occasionally in lawns throughout southern Ontario and sporadically in northern and northwestern Ontario.

Similar Species: It is distinguished from Fall panicum by its densely hairy leaves and leaf sheaths, its very fine, bushy panicle and its smaller seeds; and from Proso millet by its much smaller seeds that are only gray-brown in colour. Seedlings of Witch grass can be distinguished from those of Proso millet only by the size, shape and colour of the mother seed clinging to the primary root.

For more information...

... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds

... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

...on weeds in field crops, contact Mike Cowbrough (mike.cowbrough@ontario.ca), Weed Management Specialist (Field Crops), OMAFRA
...on weeds in horticultural crops, contact Kristen Callow (kristen.callow@ontario.ca), Weed Management Specialist (Hort Crops), OMAFRA

| Back to the Ontario Weeds Gallery |


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author:
Creation Date:
Last Reviewed: