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Blue panic (Panicum antidotale)

Description and recommendations

Common names

Blue panic, blue panic grass, giant panic grass [English], panic bleu [French], pánico azul, hierba pánico azul, hierba pánico gigante [Spanish], ثمام ترياقي [Arabic], कुटकी [Hindi]


Panicum miliare Lam., Panicum proliferum Lam.

Related feed(s)


Blue panic (Panicum antidotale Retz.) is a vigorous, tufted perennial grass that can reach 1.5 m to 3 m high (Ecocrop, 2011; FAO, 2011; Surhone et al., 2010). It is deeply rooted and develops from short, thick and somewhat bulbous rhizomes (FAO, 2011; Partridge, 2003). Its stems are erect, hard, almost woody, swollen at the base, looking like sugarcane stems (Freckmann, 2011). The leaves are smooth, bluish (hence the name blue panic), 15-30 cm long x 4-12 mm wide (Freckmann, 2011; Quattrocchi, 2006). The sheaths are 4-8 cm long and glabrous (Freckmann, 2011). The inflorescence is a 13-30 cm long panicle with 3 mm long spikelets borne on 2.5 mm long woody stalks (FAO, 2011; Freckmann, 2011). Panicum antidotale is mainly used for fodder and grain production. Several cultivars are commercially available (FAO, 2011).


Panicum antidotale originated from the Indian subcontinent, Arabian peninsula and Western Asia and is now naturalized in many tropical and subtropical areas. It is cultivated is some countries (FAO, 2011) but is considered a weed in California, Fiji and Hawaii (USDA, 2011). Panicum antidotale is a summer growing grass that benefits from summer rains. It is found in open places (fields, irrigated areas, field borders, sandy dunes, dry river beds) and disturbed areas (wastelands, flooded areas) up to 35°N (FAO, 2011; Quattrocchi, 2006). It is susceptible to frost damage but can survive mild winters,often retaining a greenish colour during this period (FAO, 2011). Optimal growth requirements are an annual rainfall ranging from 500 to 750 mm or irrigation (FAO, 2011; Partridge, 2003). However, Panicum antidotale can withstand less than 130 mm of rain and is very drought-resistant. It is mildly tolerant to temporary flooding (FAO, 2011). Panicum antidotale grows in saline and alkaline soils and both sandy and black cracking clay soils, though it grows better in fertile heavy loams or dark clay soils (FAO, 2011; Partridge, 2003). It responds positively to the addition of N. It is a full sunlight grass but tolerates partial shading. It is fire resistant (FAO, 2011).

Forage management

Establishment and grazing

Panicum antidotale can be sown alone or with buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) in pastures. The seeds should be drilled in rows (45-100 cm apart) or broadcast before the rainy season. Grass development is rather slow during the first 6-8 weeks but growth is vigorous once the plant is well established. As Panicum antidotale may become woody with maturity, it is recommended to graze it rotationally and heavily in order to maintain its nutritive value (FAO, 2011). Grazing height should be between 10 and 30 cm and rest intervals should vary from 20 to 30 days, depending on moisture conditions (FAO, 2011). In Pakistan, a 2-month clipping interval was shown to favour higher biomass and nutritional value when offered to Nili buffaloes. The two interval also sustained grass vigour (Sarwar et al., 2006). On arid degraded rangelands in Southwestern USA, Panicum antidotale ingested by cattle was viable and germinated well in dung patches after 3 years (Barrow et al., 1992; Barrow et al., 1995).


Panicum antidotale can yield 10-50 t of fresh material/ha (Ecocrop, 2011). Hay yields vary from 2.5 to 6 t DM/ha under rainfed conditions to almost 5 t/ha under irrigation (FAO, 2011). In Pakistan, under semi-arid conditions, Panicum antidotale had the highest sprouting response and percentage when compared with 8 other forages. Fresh biomass and DM yield was the highest during spring season. Panicum antidotale and Digitaria species (Digitaria eriantha and Digitaria swazilandensis) gave the highest yields (Arshadullah et al., 2009).

Environmental impact

Saline soils utilization

Salt tolerance is an ecological advantage of Panicum antidotale (Al-Solaimani et al., 2009; Khan et al., 2009; Ahmad et al., 2010). Some accessions have been used on salt-affected soils. It is a recommended forage for irrigated pastures that receive moderately saline subsoil water (Khan et al., 2008). Based on seed and forage yields, Panicum antidotale appeared more resistant to high levels of salinity than other range grasses, including blue stem grass (Dichantium annulatum) and buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) (Qadir et al., 2008).

Soil erosion control

Panicum antidotale is used as a windbreak, sown at right angles to the prevailing wind (FAO, 2011; Quattrocchi, 2006).

Agroforestry systems

Panicum antidotale can be grown with various other forages such as Cenchrus biflorus and Dicanthium annulatum in agroforestry systems for dairy production (Prasad et al., 1995).

Potential constraints

At the late flowering stage, Panicum antidotale can acquire a bitter taste and accumulate large amounts of oxalic acid that may cause kidney disorders (Göhl, 1982).

Nutritional attributes

Like other Panicum species, Panicum antidotale has a large range of crude protein content (CP, Panicum antidotale, = 4.0-15.6 % DM; CP, 172 Panicum samples = 1.50-20.1 % DM, with a mean of 7.8 ± 3.8 %,) (Feedipedia, 2011). There are differences between the major Panicum species. The protein content of Panicum antidotale is higher than that of Panicum coloratum (8.19 ± 3.63 % DM, n=141), Panicum phragmitoides (6.80 ± 3.11 % DM, n=18), Panicum turgidum (5.82 ± 3.05 % DM, n=62) and Panicum anabaptistum (3.69 ± 0.92 % DM, n=10). However, these differences should be interpreted carefully since they could be explained by other sources of variation, notably the stage of maturity and environmental conditions. In Panicum species, crude protein is positively correlated with ash content (9.03 ± 4.16 % DM, n=172): the relationship found is:

Ash = 3.88 + 0,512 crude protein (n=416, R²=0.36, RMSE=2.59).

Panicum antidotale is rich in cell walls. Crude fibre content ranges between 31 and 44 % DM (vs 25-50 % for all Panicum species; n= 54). In the Panicum genus, NDF is comprised between 55 and 85 % (72.2 % ± 10.8 % DM, n=66). The NDF/ADF ratio is 1.70. Cell wall and crude protein are negatively correlated with no effect of the species within the Panicum genus. For NDF the relationship found is:

NDF = 79.9 - 0.61 crude protein (n=259, R²=0.18, RMSE=4.8 %).



Panicum antidotale provides a palatable pasture and is valuable as a fodder crop for light sandy soils in dry areas (Sarwar et al., 2006). It is readily grazed by livestock before flowering. At flowering, the spikes have hard and woody stalks that decrease palatability rapidly (FAO, 2011; Quattrocchi, 2006). If livestock do not graze the whole stand, the residue should be made into hay to let the regrowth provide new green.material. Panicum antidotale can also be used to make silage (FAO, 2011).

In a comparison of forages in Saudi Arabia, Panicum antidotale was found to have the lowest protein content. Its energy content (estimated in vitro) was higher than that of canary grass (Phalaris spp.) but lower than moringa (Moringa oleifera), jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) and finger millet (Eleusine coracana)(Bakhashwain et al., 2010). 

The nutritive value of Panicum antidotale declines markedly as it matures but more research is needed to establish predictive equations of its nutritive value based on the stage of maturity. It can be assumed that, approximatively, the crude protein content decreases by 0.6 ± 0.03% per day and that the NDF content increases by 0.9 ± 0.1 per 10 day. The OMD decreases by almost 1.9 ± 0.6% per 10 days (Malik et al., 1967). The OM digestibility of Panicum species was 57.4 ± 5.1 (n=66; Feedbase, 2011), which corresponds to a ME content of 8.03 ± 0.93 MJ/kg DM. There is a negative relationship between OM digestibility and NDF expressed as:

OMD % = 98.3 – 0.54 NDF (R=-0.26, RSD=4.4 %, n=48). 

Predictions with NIRS of in vitro digestibility and crude protein of samples of Panicum antidotale were accurate and the estimation of lignin content was adequate. However, prediction of NDF was rather poor (Rabotnikof et al., 1995).

In Saudi Arabia, blue panic has been used in lactating dairy cows diet, in order to replace alfalfa. In vitro CH4 emissions were lower with blue panic than with alfalfa (7.5 vs. 10.3 ml/g DM). However, cows fed on blue panic yielded less milk (5.44 vs 6.74 kg/d), and had lower fat corrected milk (4.62 vs.5.58kg/d). It was thus concluded that blue panic could not completely replace alfalfa in dairy cows diet (Allam et al., 2013).


Heuzé V., Sauvant D., Tran G., 2014. Blue panic (Panicum antidotale). A programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. Last updated on February 13, 2014, 9:47


Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 28.6 6.6 18.6 46.9 36
Crude protein % DM 10.2 3.3 4.0 15.6 39
Crude fibre % DM 36.6 3.7 30.8 44.1 39
NDF % DM 73.7 *
ADF % DM 42.5 *
Lignin % DM 5.9 *
Ether extract % DM 1.6 0.4 0.6 2.5 39
Ash % DM 9.8 2.1 6.6 15.8 40
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 4.5 1.8 1.7 9.1 36
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.7 1.2 1.2 5.7 36
Potassium g/kg DM 22.1 6.6 13.7 38.6 11
Sodium g/kg DM 0.1 0.0 0.2 2
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.5 1.2 1.2 4.1 7
Manganese mg/kg DM 127 1
Zinc mg/kg DM 43 33 53 2
Copper mg/kg DM 6 5 7 2
Iron mg/kg DM 533 1
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 58.5 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 55.9 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.1 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.1 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


CIRAD, 1991; Gowda et al., 2004; Malik et al., 1967; Sen, 1938

Last updated on 27/11/2012 16:21:47

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 93.5 0.4 93.1 94.0 6
Crude protein % DM 3.8 1.5 2.8 6.4 6
Crude fibre % DM 40.2 3.3 34.2 43.3 6
NDF % DM 77.6 8.5 63.4 87.0 6 *
ADF % DM 45.7 4.5 38.6 50.3 6 *
Lignin % DM 6.6 1.2 6.6 11.2 6 *
Ether extract % DM 0.8 0.2 0.6 1.1 6
Ash % DM 7.7 8.3 2.2 23.3 6
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 5.7 8.6 1.0 22.8 6
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.5 3.9 0.5 10.4 6
Potassium g/kg DM 7.0 0.8 6.2 8.1 6
Sodium g/kg DM 0.5 0.6 0.1 1.1 3
Magnesium g/kg DM 1.8 0.3 1.5 2.1 6
Manganese mg/kg DM 69 18 54 90 3
Zinc mg/kg DM 19 13 10 34 3
Copper mg/kg DM 4 3 3 8 3
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 56.4 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 53.9 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.7 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.9 *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


CIRAD, 1991

Last updated on 27/11/2012 16:24:29



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