E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Panicum capillare L.
common witchgrass (witchgrass)
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #89136)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Panicum capillare
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Species Information

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Annual grass from fibrous roots, usually branching from the base; stems decumbent-based to erect, 20-70 cm tall.
Sheaths open, copiously more or less pimpled and soft-hairy, the hairs 2-4 mm long; basal leaves similar to the stem leaves, the blades (3) 5-12 (15) mm wide; ligules 1.5-2 mm long.
Inflorescence a diffusely branched, spreading to drooping panicle, 10-30 cm long, often partially included in the uppermost sheath; spikelets 2-flowered, 2.5-3.5 mm long, the lower florets sterile, the upper ones always fertile; lower glumes 3-nerved, sharp-pointed, at least 1/2 as long as the spikelets, 1-3 mm long, the upper ones smooth, 7-nerved, sharp-pointed, about as long as the sterile lemmas, exceeding the fertile lemmas and paleas; sterile lemmas smooth, 9-nerved; fertile lemmas much-hardened, faintly-nerved; lodicules about 0.3 mm long, fan-shaped; anthers purple, about 1.2 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to dry roadsides, railway embankments, gravelly slopes and fields in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; frequent in S BC, rare northward to 56 degrees N; E to PQ and NS and S to ME, MA, PA, NC, FL, MS, LA, TX, NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Panicum capillare

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 449 1051 2290
Slope Gradient (%) 3 47 86
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
138 196 335
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 5
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: ICH(1), IDF(2), PP(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Panicum barbipulvinatum Nash
Panicum capillare subsp. barbipulvinatum (Nash) Tzvelev
Panicum capillare var. agreste Gattinger
Panicum capillare var. barbipulvinatum (Nash) R.L. McGregor
Panicum capillare var. brevifolium Vasey ex Rydb. & Shear
Panicum capillare var. campestre Gattinger
Panicum capillare var. capillare
Panicum capillare var. occidentale Rydb.
Panicum philadelphicum subsp. gattingeri (Nash) Freckmann & Lelong

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References