University of Missouri Extension

IPM1024, Revised October 2010

Identifying Grass Seedlings

Witchgrass (Panicum capillare)

Summer annual grasses


Witchgrass is a tufted grass that may grow in a decumbent fashion, or upright, and reaches a height of about 30 inches. The sheaths and stems are round and densely covered with soft, stiff long hairs at a 90-degree angle to the stem and sheath. The blades are also covered with soft hair and are 4–12 mm wide. Auricles are absent, and the ligule is a frings of hairs. At maturity, the plant breaks off and is often referred to as “tumbleweed.”

Mature witchgrassMature witchgrass.

Collar region SeedlingCollar region: hairy ligule; stem and sheath covered with hairs.
Right, seedling.


Witchgrass tolerates many soil conditions and may be found in pastures, open fields, cultivated fields, waste areas, banks of streams and rights-of-way.


Witchgrass is common throughout Missouri and much of the United States.

Similar species

Wild proso millet is a related species but is not common in Missouri.

IPM1024 Identifying Grass Seedlings | University of Missouri Extension

Order publications online at or call toll-free 800-292-0969.

University of Missouri Extension - print indicia