Panicled grass

A tree-like grass inflorescence:

My best guess is that the grass is Panicum philadelphicum or another Panicum species. For some reason, the common name of grasses in this genus is panic grass. Maybe panicled grass is too many syllables! It’s a large inflorescence, at least 18 inches. The background is red-osier dogwood. I spent some time to key it out, it probably is Swida sericea, and not another Swida species. The showy vertical stems offered some nice winter color.

14 thoughts on “Panicled grass

    • It was fun looking up the plants – after I found Panicum there were many species to browse through. For the red-osier I clipped a twig to check the pith color, the attribute that pointed to S. sericea.

  1. Well I certainly had to look up inflorescence- thanks for introducing this new term – and what a lovely wintry example this is! How fascinating to have such a strangely unique common name for this plant.

    • Inflorescence? That’s what comes from reading a botany site to do the identification – it is just a dried flower, though people don’t think of grasses having flowers.

  2. We have a similar species called switchgrass: Panicum virgatum. It’s one of the ‘big four’ of the prairie grasses. I never would have imagined seeing this grass in combination with osier dogwood, though. It really makes for a fine background. I’m fond of the dogwood, generally. I still have some branches I pulled from a Minnesota ditch ten years ago, and believe it or not, they still have a faint red blush to them.

    • This could very well be switchgrass, P. virgatum, it’s found up here as well. I often find when I try to do identification that the photograph I took is missing the details that firm up the identification. Here, an extreme closeup of the spikelets as well as the foliage would have helped. The fresh flowers of P. virgatum have vivid purple and orange parts – I’ll have to find some earlier in the season.

  3. I, too, was going to say it resembled switch grass to me. Grasses are really hard to key out, and I also frequently get home with a photo I think will give me the information I need only to sadly find it doesn’t. OFTEN! lol. Regardless, what a beautiful photo of it against the dogwood.

    • Thanks, Melissa! It was a learning experience to find the genus of this grass. I have a neat resource, the online key, that’s maintained by the Native Plant Trust (formerly the NE Wildflower Society).

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