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Genus Panicum Family Poaceae

Description: Annuals or perennials of various habit.

Leaves with ligule membranous, ± ciliate, or a rim of hairs; blade rolled in bud, often with tubercle-based hairs.

Inflorescence a compact or open panicle, rarely a primary axis with racemes.

Spikelets solitary or rarely in pairs, falling entire at maturity, usually dorsally compressed. Florets 2, the upper bisexual, the lower male or sterile. Lower glume often minute, 1–5-nerved or nerveless; upper rounded on the back, entire, 5–11-nerved. Lower lemma similar to the upper glume in texture and size, 5–9-nerved; upper lemma stiff or hardened, nerves usually not obvious, margins firm and inrolled, apex acute to obtuse, not mucronate. Paleas 2, the lower membranous or rarely absent, the upper similar to its lemma and tightly enclosed by it.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 500 species, mostly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: c. 33 species (c. 25 species native, 8 species naturalized), all States.

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & C. A. Wall
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Panicum hillmanii,    Panicum racemosum

 Key to the species 
1Lower glume mostly 10–50% the length of the spikelet2
Lower glume 50–90% the length of the spikelet (sometimes slightly less than half the spikelet length)14
2Lower floret almost always male (examine several spikelets)3
Lower floret almost always sterile (stamens absent) (examine several spikelets)
                       Back to 1
3Fertile lemma smooth and shiny, occasionally faintly rugulose (with tiny wrinkles); panicle branches more or less whorled4
Fertile lemma transversely rugulose (with a wrinkled appearance); lower panicle branches whorled
                       Back to 2
Panicum maximum
4Tufted, ascending annual with soft stems that can be compressed easily; spikelets acute to obtusePanicum schinzii
Perennials with firm stems; spikelets acute to acuminate
                       Back to 3
5Creeping plants with long rhizomes; tips of rhizomes and buds covered with sharp, hard scales; potential weedPanicum repens
Tufted plants, rhizomes and stolons if present short; hard, sharp scales absent; pasture grasses or roadside weeds
                       Back to 4
6Spikelets ovate to lanceolate; fertile floret c. 2.3 mm long; plants robust, tufted, culms sometimes swollen at the basePanicum antidotale
Spikelets elliptic; fertile floret 1.75–2.5 mm long; plants variable in habit often with short stolons and without a well-developed basal tuft of leaves
                       Back to 5
Panicum coloratum
7Low decumbent perennials 0.15–0.5 m high, stoloniferous or rooting at the lower nodes; inflorescences usually very narrow and less than 7 cm long, sometimes reduced to a primary axis with racemes, often only partly exserted from the leaves8
Erect or ascending (occasionally trailing) tufted annuals or perennials with culms usually more than 0.2 m high; panicles spreading, branched and usually more than 7 cm long, more or less exserted from the leaves
                       Back to 2
8Semi-aquatic grass rooting freely at the nodes in mud around streams and swamps; spikelets 2.75–3.3 mm long, leaves with blade not constricted at the blade-sheath junctionPanicum obseptum
Grasses of rainforest floors and margins; spikelets 1.75–2.5 mm long; leaves with blade abruptly narrowed into the sheath at the base, almost subpetiolate; tubercle-based hairs often present on leaves
                       Back to 7
9Stems rather weak, 4- or 5- or more-noded; leaves with blade soft; panicle with few but spreading branchesPanicum pygmaeum
Stems more rigid, almost wiry, 7- or 8-noded; leaves with blade firm; panicle contracted
                       Back to 8
Panicum lachnophyllum
10Stout aquatic grass, stems often floating on water or erect; leaves with blade 8–20 mm wide; spikelets 3.5–4.5 mm longPanicum paludosum
Tufted, non-aquatic grasses; leaves with blade to 10 mm wide
                       Back to 7
11Fertile floret only about half the length of the spikelet, the latter 3.5–4.5 mm long; fertile lemma 1.75–2 mm long; panicle lanceolate in outline, often noddingPanicum buncei
Fertile floret no more than 1 mm shorter than the spikelet; panicle ovate or pyramidal in outline, usually erect
                       Back to 10
12Tufted perennial forming large, usually blue-green, tussocks 0.3–0.8 m or more high; internodes usually concealed by the leaf sheathsPanicum decompositum
Usually more slender, tufted annuals, leaves yellow-green or green with a purple tinge; nodes usually visible
                       Back to 11
13Yellowish green, erect annual of inland floodplains; panicle branches spreading at maturity, main branches becoming flattened and broad towards their basesPanicum laevinode
Often purple-tinged, decumbent, weedy annual; main branches of panicle slender and almost 3-angled at the base, primary branches spreading but secondary branches and spikelets remaining appressed to their axes
                       Back to 12
Panicum gilvum
14Lower floret almost always male15
Lower floret almost always sterile (stamens absent)
                       Back to 1
15Spikelets obtuse; fertile lemma with faint transverse wrinkles; lowest internode of each stem thickened into a hard, corm-like basePanicum bulbosum
Spikelets acute, fertile lemma smooth and shiny; base of plant sometimes thickened and nodular but corm-like structures absent
                       Back to 14
Panicum antidotale
16Spikelets 5–6.5 mm long17
Spikelets less than 5 mm long
                       Back to 14
17Lower glumes 50% the length of the spikelet, acute; spikelets ovate-oblong to ovate to lanceolate, apiculate-acuminatePanicum miliaceum
Lower glume at least 75% the length of the spikelet, long-acuminate; spikelets lanceolate and long acuminate
                       Back to 16
Panicum queenslandicum
18Lower glume obtuse to almost acutePanicum subxerophilum
Lower glume acute to acuminate
                       Back to 16
19Lower glume at least 75% the length of the spikelets; spikelets 3–5(–7) mm longPanicum queenslandicum
Lower glume 50% (or slightly less) the length of the spikelet
                       Back to 18
20Aquatic grass with stems floating in water or rooting at the nodes in mud; plants glabrous; grain purplish blackPanicum bisulcatum
Tufted, non-aquatic grasses, sometimes decumbent (but not rooting at the nodes); leaves usually with tubercle-based hairs; grains not black
                       Back to 19
21Inflorescence 4–20 cm long, a primary axis with racemes (rarely secondary branching); spikelets often gaping, pale to purple or blotched with purple, nodes usually glabrousPanicum simile
Panicle with long spreading branches and secondary and higher order branching; colour contrast not obvious in spikelets; nodes usually hairy
                       Back to 20
22Leaves with blade 2–5 mm wide, flat or involute; palea of lower floret present; plants perennialPanicum effusum
Leaves with blade 5–18 mm wide, flat; palea of lower floret often absent; plants annual
                       Back to 21
Panicum capillare

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