Ontario Weeds: Witch grass
Table of Contents
- Other Names
- General Description
- Stems and Roots
- Flowers and Fruit
- Similar Species
- For more information...
Name: Witch grass, Panicum capillare
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. A.
Base of plant. B. Leaf-base. C. Panicle.
Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical
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
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 (email@example.com),
Weed Management Specialist (Field Crops), OMAFRA
...on weeds in horticultural crops, contact Kristen Callow (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Weed Management Specialist (Hort Crops), OMAFRA
to the Ontario Weeds Gallery |