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Japanese stilt grass

(Microstegium vimineum)

Photo of Japanese stilt grass
Photo credit: John Randall

Annual grass that is generally 1-3’ tall but will also spread in a mat-like manner. The stems are hairless and branched with upward-pointing tips. Japanese stilt grass can spread vegetatively by rooting at the nodes as well as by seed.

Overview

Other names for this plant include:
  • Common names: Nepalese browntop, Chinese packing grass, bamboograss
  • Scientific names: Eulalia viminea; M. aristulatum
Ecological threat:
  • Prefers wetlands, streambanks, ditches, mesic forests, floodplains where its large seed bank can be spread by moving water.
  • Out-competes native plants in low light conditions.
 Overview map of prohibited classification in WI
Prohibited (red) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for Japanese stilt grass was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves: Alternate, lance-shaped leaves that taper at both ends, are 2-3” long, and pale green with a silvery stripe down the midvein that is slightly off-center. Foliage turns purplish in the fall.

Flowers: There are several 1-3” long flower spikes that appear either terminally or in the leaf axils. Spikelets are hairy and the flowers bloom starting in mid-September.

Fruits & seeds: Can produce up to 1,000 seeds during a growing season with seeds remaining viable for 3-5 years.

Roots: Shallow fibrous roots.

Similar species: Whitegrass or Virginia cutgrass (Leersia virginica; native) lacks the silver stripe along the midrib and has flower spikes that occur in August which is earlier than stilt grass. The leaf nodes of whitegrass are hairy the foliage stays green into the fall. Stilt grass has non-hairy leaf nodes and the foliage turns purple in fall.

Japanese Stiltgrass Booklet
Field Guide to Japanese Stiltgrass Identification

Distribution

Currently, there have been no reports of Japanese stilt grass in Wisconsin. Have you seen it? Send us a report.

Control

Mechanical: Can hand pull small populations or mow at peak bloom before seeds set.

Chemical: Glyphosate or grass specific herbicide will work; in dry areas, imazipic plus MSO can be applied pre- or –post-emergent.

Photos

View Japanese stilt grass pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:
  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 141-142
Links for more information: