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Japanese Stiltgrass (invasive)

Scientific name: Microstegium vimineum

This plant is an aggressive invader throughout the Eastern United States. It has had a serious impact on native species of plants and has negatively impacted native species diversity, reduced wildlife habitat and disrupted ecosystem function. It is very prolific in our region and is considered one of the most damaging invasive plant species in our country.

Stiltgrass is a weak-rooted and sprawling annual grass that can grow to heights of 6 feet, though it is usually much shorter. It germinates in the spring, and dies back in the fall. Taller plants typically lie flat along the ground or propped up against other vegetation.

This plant was accidentally introduced into the US around 1919, as a result of being used as a packing material in shipments of porcelain from China.


The leaves are short with smooth edges and a noticeable silvery midrib on older leaves, 2-4 inces long, both ends pointed along the stem.


Flowers and then seeds are set on delicate stalks and appear late summer to early fall. Each plant can produce up to 1,000 seeds. Once in the soil, the seeds can remain viable up to 5 years. These small seeds stick to clothing, shoes and animal fur aiding in their spread.

The Role of White Tail Deer

Unfortunately, they do not eat stiltgrass and instead are left to browse on native species, further reducing their numbers and lessening biodiversity. Native plant communities and all the insects, pollinators and birds that rely on them have reduced populations as a result of this destructive pattern.


Commonly found along roads, ditches, power line corridors, lawns and in shaded woodlands. It creates a dense monoculture which excludes and pushes out other types of plants.

How You Can Help

Learn to identify invasive plant species that grow locally. Avoid using invasive plant and flowers in your garden and don’t share with others. Native species provide much better food and cover for native wildlife.


If You Have It ?

Mow, pull or weed wack before it goes to seed in August. Since it is an annual it will die back and not be able to reproduce if it is not allowed to set seed.

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