Switchgrass

SwitchgrassPanicum virgatum L.

Whole plant

Family : Poaceae

Longevity : Perennial

Origin : Native

Season : Warm

One of the “Big Four” tallgrass prairie grasses, Switchgrass can be found growing in the moist open places of the Edwards Plateau and South Texas Plains. It is a tall bunchgrass growing from 20 inches to 10 feet tall. The stem is hollow and the leaves have a small triangular patch of hair near the base. The leaves are also red to purplish at the base and are 10 to 24 inches long and 1/8 to 9/16 inch wide. Switchgrass reproduces from rhizomes, tillers and seeds. The large seed head is pyramid-shaped and has purplish spikelets. The seeds are eaten by upland game birds, songbirds, and small mammals. Cattle, horses and sheep eat switchgrass during the spring, however it’s palatabilty diminishes once the seed heads have emerged. Switchgrass also provides excellent cover for ducks and upland game birds.

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