Panicoideae is the second-largest subfamily of the grasses with over 3,500 species, mainly distributed in warm temperate and tropical regions.[1] It comprises some important agricultural crops, including sugarcane, maize (or corn), sorghum, and switchgrass.

Miscanthus sinensis in Tonomine Highlands, Japan
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Clade: PACMAD clade
Subfamily: Panicoideae
A.Braun (1864)

12 tribes, see text

  • Andropogonoideae Rouy (1913)
  • Centothecoideae Soderst. (1981)
  • Andropogineae Burmeist. (1837, unranked)
  • Paniceae Burmeist. (1837, unranked)
  • Paniceae Link (1827, unranked)
  • Rottboëllaceae Burmeist. (1837, unranked)

C4 photosynthesis evolved independently a number of times in the subfamily, which presumably had a C3 ancestor.[2]


The ligule has a fringe of hairs. The inflorescence is branched around a common axis. The spikelets are all alike with two bisexual florets that are joined below the glumes (the outer floral envelopes). The lower glume is shorter than the spikelet.[3]

Systematics and taxonomy

Within the PACMAD clade of grasses, the Panicoideae are sister to a clade made of the four subfamilies Arundinoideae, Chloridoideae, Danthonioideae, and Micrairoideae.[2] A modern phylogenetic classification divides the Panicoideae in twelve tribes corresponding to monophyletic clades; two genera, Chandrasekharania and Jansenella, are unplaced (incertae sedis) but probably belong to tribe Tristachyideae.[1] The three largest tribes, Paniceae, Paspaleae, and Andropogoneae, together with the small Arundinelleae, form the core of the subfamily. The Gynerieae were formerly placed in Arundinoideae, and the basal lineage, the "centothecoid clade" with seven tribes, was formerly seen as separate subfamily, Centothecoideae.[1]

Phylogeny based on chloroplast DNA analyses, showing relationships of tribes within the subfamily (dashed lines indicate uncertain positions; C4 clades flagged):[1][2][4][5]

"centothecoid clade"




Tristachyideae C4





Paniceae C3 & C4



Paspaleae C3 & C4

Andropogoneae C4

Arundinelleae C4


  1. Soreng, Robert J.; Peterson, Paul M.; Romschenko, Konstantin; Davidse, Gerrit; Zuloaga, Fernando O.; Judziewicz, Emmet J.; Filgueiras, Tarciso S.; Davis, Jerrold I.; Morrone, Osvaldo (2015). "A worldwide phylogenetic classification of the Poaceae (Gramineae)". Journal of Systematics and Evolution. 53 (2): 117–137. doi:10.1111/jse.12150. ISSN 1674-4918.
  2. Grass Phylogeny Working Group II (2012). "New grass phylogeny resolves deep evolutionary relationships and discovers C4 origins". New Phytologist. 193 (2): 304–312. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2011.03972.x. hdl:2262/73271. ISSN 0028-646X. PMID 22115274.
  3. Koekemoer, Marinda (2014). Guide to plant families of southern Africa. H. M. Steyn, S. P. Bester (2nd ed.). Pretoria. ISBN 978-1-919976-92-1. OCLC 890117816.
  4. Morrone, Osvaldo; Aagesen, Lone; Scataglini, Maria A.; Salariato, Diego L.; Denham, Silvia S.; Chemisquy, Maria A.; Sede, Silvana M.; Giussani, Liliana M.; Kellogg, Elizabeth A.; Zuloaga, Fernando O. (2012). "Phylogeny of the Paniceae (Poaceae: Panicoideae): integrating plastid DNA sequences and morphology into a new classification". Cladistics. 28 (4): 333–356. doi:10.1111/j.1096-0031.2011.00384.x. ISSN 0748-3007.
  5. Besnard, G.; Christin, P.-A.; Male, P.-J. G.; Coissac, E.; Ralimanana, H.; Vorontsova, M. S. (2013). "Phylogenomics and taxonomy of Lecomtelleae (Poaceae), an isolated panicoid lineage from Madagascar". Annals of Botany. 112 (6): 1057–1066. doi:10.1093/aob/mct174. ISSN 0305-7364. PMC 3783238. PMID 23985988.
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