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Japanese Stiltgrass

Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), infestation found in East Aurora, NY. Photo Credit: WNY PRISM.

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Common Name: Japanese stiltgrass
Scientific Name: Microstegium vimineum
Origin: Asia

Description

Japanese stiltgrass is an annual, short stature grass that forms dense patches as it grows. The leaves are pale green, narrow and lance-shaped with a distinctive silver stripe of hairs along the mid-rib. Japanese stiltgrass can resemble other grasses, but this silver stripe can be easily distinguished. Tiny flowers are produced on slender stalks in late summer.

Habitat

Japanese stiltgrass is especially adapted to low light conditions, but will still thrive in a wide range of habitats including woodlands, floodplains, streambanks, open fields, yards and roadsides.

Threat

Japanese stiltgrass quickly spreads to form extensive mats that displace native plants and plant communities. It can also change soil nutrient cycling processes, inhibit tree survival and growth, and reduce light availability. After it dies back in late fall, it forms a thick layer of smothering thatch that is slow to decompose and may create a fire hazard. Japanese stiltgrass produces a lot of seed, which is easily spread by mowers, deer, people, and flood waters.

Management

Manual and herbicide treatments are commonly used for control of this plant, and both have been demonstrated to be successful.

Hand-pulling can be very effective for small populations, but because this action disturbs the soil and may expose stiltgrass seed from previous seasons, hand-pulling will need to be repeated for many seasons until the seed bank is depleted. In addition, soil disturbance favors the establishment of other invasive species.

Japanese stiltgrass is highly susceptible to herbicides including glyphosate and grass-specific products. This is the preferred method of removal for larger populations where hand-pulling is not feasible.

Mechanical removal such as mowing is not recommended.

Regional Distribution

Early Detection

Japanese stiltgrass was discovered in the Village of East Aurora in 2017. Early detection monitoring and outreach efforts are currently underway.

WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 2 – Eradication

Pathways

Japanese stiltgrass was introduced to North America in the early 1900’s as packing material for shipping. It may also have been transported through contaminated soil, through the Nursery and Landscaping industry. Seed is transported on hiking equipment/boots, by mowers and vehicles, by deer and by seasonal flood waters.

 

Japanese stiltgrass is a prohibited species in New York State – for more information on Prohibited and Regulated Species, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/99141.html.

 

Additional Resources:

The Stewardship Network hosted a webinar featuring japanese stiltgrass management in November, 2017. The webinar was recorded and is available here:  A Conversation on Japanese Stiltgrass.