Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
  • Home
  • Trailheads
  • Downloads
  • Privacy Policy
  • Return to Portal
  • Switchgrass

    SCIENTIFIC NAME: Panicum virgatum

    COMMON NAME: Switchgrass, Prairie Switchgrass, Tall Panicgrass, Thatchgrass, Wild Redtop, Blackbent, Virginia Switchgrass, Wobsqua Grass, Wand Panicgrass, Lowland Switchgrass, Tall Prairiegrass

    BLOOM TIME: July, Aug, Sept


    • Perennial grass can be 3-9 ft. tall & stands erect.
    • Leaf blades are about 2 ft. x ½ in., medium green, hairless & indented at mid vein.
    • Habitat: full sun, will tolerate any kind of soil, & prefers drier conditions.
    • A dominant grass of the tall grass prairie.
    • Has tiny flowers & many tiny seeds on spikelets.
    • Switch grass has been evaluated as a possible source of alcohol for biofuel. 
    • It can produce more alcohol per acre than corn, but its bulky foliage could impede processing and shipping.
    • Used in landscaping, turning a wheat color in fall.


    • Insects feeding on grass include caterpillars of several skippers, larvae of grass leaf-miner moths, gall flies, plants bugs, stink bugs, aphids, leafhoppers, mealybugs, leaf beetles, grasshoppers.
    • Seeds are eaten by a variety of birds, including wetland birds, upland gamebirds, grain eating songbirds & Prairie Deer Mouse.
    • Very young foliage of grass is edible to cattle & other hoofed mammalian herbivores.
    • Grass remains upright during winter, often forms large clumps & providing good cover for various birds & mammals during this cold weather.