Panicum bulbosum

Common Name: panic grass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Southern North America, Centeral America, northern South America
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to February
Bloom Description: Reddish-brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried
Leaf: Colorful
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Wet Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best flower color in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils, including dry ones, but prefers moist, sandy or clay soils with good drainage. Will grow in part shade, but begins to lose its form in too much shade, spreading more openly. Established plants will tolerate brief periods of drought. Will slowly naturalize in garden areas buy rhizomes.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Panicum bulbosum, commonly called bulbous panic grass, is a clump-forming grass that typically grows to 30-40” tall in cultivation, but may rise to as much as 60-80” in the wild. This grass is particularly noted for its (1) light gray-green foliage, (2) erect culms which are swollen at the base (lowest internode) forming an ovoid corm, (3) upright stems of reddish-brown flowers which bloom in pyramidal panicles in summer and (4) vigorous growth habit. It is native to pine/oak wooded areas, mountain slopes, moist places in canyons and valleys, gravelly river banks, and roadside ditches primarily in Arizona and New Mexico south into Mexico with some small populations in southern Nevada and western Texas. Foliage clumps are topped in summer by loosely flowered pyramidal panicles which are purple in color if the plant is growing in sun or green in color if plant is growing in shade. Flowers hover over the foliage like a cloud. Flowers are followed by seed plumes which often persist well into winter. Additional features of this grass include (a) membranous ligules, (b) glabrous sheaths, (c) leaf blades (to 2’ long and 1/2” wide) which have scabrous surfaces and acuminate or attenuate apices, (d) long-exserted panicles, (e) obtuse and glabrous spikelets, and (f) obtuse lower glumes.

Some experts believe this plant should be changed to Zuloagaea bulbosum as a result of recent molecular phylogenetic studies.

Genus name comes from an old Latin word for millet.

Specific epithet is in reference to the swelling of the lowest internode on each corm into a bulb-like base.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Ornamentally grown for panicles of bloom which fresh or dried are attractive additions to bouquets and arrangements. Accent, group or mass. Also effective as a screen. Perennial borders, wild gardens, native plant gardens, prairies, meadows or naturalized areas. Also appropriate for bog gardens and pond margins.