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Old Switch Panic Grass

( Panicum virgatum )

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Old Switch Panic Grass
Switchgrass
Old Switchgrass
Poaceae
Panicum
var. virgatum
Panicum virgatum
Linnaeus
SK, MB, ON, QC, NS
Panicum virgatum
Panicum virgatum var. cubense
Panicum virgatum var. obtusum
Characteristics

Grass/Sedge

Deciduous

5

Sun

Clay, Sand, Loam

Dry, Normal, Moist

Yes

No

Yes

Yes
Habitat Considerations

Boreal Shield, Atlantic Maritime, Mixedwood Plains, Prairies

Woodland, Forest Edge, Prairie/Meadow/Field, Wet Meadow/Prairie/Field, Riparian, Swamp/Marsh, Lakeshores

Rooftop Garden (drought tolerant/shallow rooted), Bird, Prairie/Meadow
Design Considerations

40 cm

200 cm

Jul - Sep

Purple|Green/Brown|Pink

Yes


Yes

Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan)



Yes




Squirrels, Birds, Butterfly Larvae, Other Showy Insects

No
Conservation Status

No


Interesting Tidbits

Switchgrass has attracted attention as a fiber source for biofuel because it will typically result in lower ash content that other fiber sources. Since it is native, switchgrass is resistant to many pests and plant diseases, and it is capable of producing high yields with very low applications of fertilizer. Good forage for cattle. (Switchgrass Profile) Switchgrass is also very tolerant of poor soils, flooding and drought, which are widespread agricultural problems in the southeast. (Switchgrass Profile) Habitat Information: This is a core Tall Grass Prairie indicator species. Virgatum the Latin name of this plant, means wand like. (Tall Grass Ontario) Switch grass is an easy plant to grow in that it is suitable for marshy to dry conditions. The roots of this plant can grow more than 10 feet long, like many prairie plants in adaptation to drought. (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) It is also found in open pine and oak woodlands and brackish marshes along the Maritime coasts. (USDA PLANTS) Seeds are eaten by many birds, including wetland, upland, and songbirds. Rabbits, small mammals including muskrat eat the foliage when in wetlands. Deer, horses, cattle, sheep, and goats eat young foliage. (Illinois Wildflowers) Garden Uses: Also called panic grass, it can be aggressive. It has a tough root system. (Rhynard, G., as cited in Johnson, L., The New Ontario Naturalized Garden, 1999) It is a tall species with a panicle of small seeds, like thousands of buzzing insects, in a slightly diamond shaped, large flower head, a great plant pairing for modern architectural gardens. This showy grass is already well used in gardens, with many hybrid versions of different colours and sizes of the plant being created. (Evergreen) Insect Relationships: This record is for switch grass and other Panicum spp. (panic grasses): Skippers Atrytone logan (Delaware skipper), Hesperia leonardus (Leonard's skipper), Hesperia sassacus (Indian skipper), Poanes hobomok (Hobomok skipper), Polites themistocles (tawny edged skipper), and Wallengrenia egremet (northern broken dash). Moth caterpillars Cycloplasis panicifoliella. Leafhoppers for switch grass include various Flexamia spp. and Graminella spp. (Illinois Wildflowers) Because switch grass remains upright during the winter and often forms large clumps, it provides good cover for various birds and small mammals during this time of year. Edible, medicinal uses: There is little information about switch grass for edibility or medicinal uses (Evergreen) Green Roof: This drought hardy plant has been grown in soil levels 5 inches and up with good results. (Evergreen)


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