Weed of the month: April

WITCHGRASS

(Panicum capillare var. brevifolium)

(Photos: E. Cousins; growth habit, emerging flower head or inflorescence)

The mild, damp summer was kind to weeds as well our ‘good’ plants on site this year. This weedy grass was producing lots of seed when we came across it at our February working bee. It is a hairy, tufted grass…check those hairs out in the second photo! Notice also the slight purple in the plant, and the dominant midrib on the leaf. You might be able to spot all the ribbing on the stems as well. The flower head is very open and wide, at up to 40cm, with many branches. Single spikelets, each containing two flowers (one of which is fertile, the other sterile), adorn these branches. Unlike the leaves and stem, these spikelets aren’t hairy, but rough! Later, the mature flower head, full of seed, breaks off as a single structure, blowing away to spread the seed.