Invasive Species – Japanese Stilt Grass


After land has been disturbed either by grazing, burning, mowing, or logging, Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum) can monopolize the ground level plant community. This invasive species out-competes natives, spreading by seeds, rapidly can take over a site.


The grass appears to be more stem than leaves, rising to about 3.5 ft, but often bending over. Their green leaves have a distinctive off-center shiny midrib. The leaves are alternate and very spaced along the stem. Thin flower stalks appear in late summer with tightly clustered flowers and seeds. Each plant releases many seeds before it dies by late fall.


It is fairly easy to pull the grass out by hand, but usually the population is so large that this manual removal will take extensive periods of time. Mowing and weed whacking is also useful, but it must be done before the seeds set. Herbicides with imazameth are good to use since they kill the stilt grass but not native grasses.


If the stilt grass can be removed from a region, some good native species to plant would be asters, sedges, or Leersia virginica, which is similar to the stilt grass but it is a native and much more healthy for the environment.