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Pest Information



  • Latin Name: Panicum Capillare
  • Common Name: Witchgrass
  • Other Names: Food hay, mousseline, panic grass, tickle grass, tumble panic, tumbleweed grass, witches’ hair, old witch grass, fool hay

Pest Details



Native to the eastern United States, and now common throughout the U.S. and southern Canada.


A bushy, shallow-rooted summer annual. A problem in crops and orchards, particularly in sandy soil, as well as in landscape and nurseries. Reproduction is by seeds, with germination in early-spring into early summer. Plants mature throughout the summer, and when the flower heads dry they become brittle and break off to blow away in the wind, giving them one of their common names.


Mature plants are bushy, with many branches from the base, and may grow to about 2 feet in height. Stems, sheaths, and leaves all are covered with long, coarse hairs. Leaves may reach around 10 inches long and have rough edges. The sheath often is purplish in color. The flower heads are very large and spreading, up to 16 inches long, and with many stiff branches that grow perpendicular to the main stem. Spikelets on these branches each produce one flowering group.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Spring germination, seed dispersal by tumbling of dry panicles.

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