Japanese Stiltgrass


Microstegium vimineum

2019 Status in Maine: Localized. Severely Invasive.

Description: Herbaceous, annual grass, 1-3' tall, with a branching habitat. Plant resembles a small, delicate bamboo. Leaves: Alternate, pale green, ½" wide and 2-4" long with a stripe of reflective hairs on the midrib of the upper leaf surface. Flowers/Seeds: Flower heads develop late in the season (September) and contain 1-3 flower spikes, resembling crabgrass. Each plant can shed hundreds of yellow-reddish ellipticalseeds before dying in late fall.

Native range: Southeast Asia. How arrived in U.S.: In packing grass for Asian porcelain.

Reproduction: Produces new plants only by seed, which is viable 3-5 years. New shoots can grow from stem nodes during growing season.

Similar native species: Grasses can be difficult to identify without training. There are a number of species with either similarly shaped leaves or similarly shaped inflorescences as Japanese stiltgrass, but not both. Virginia cutgrass, also known as whitegrass (Leersia virginica), has both similar leaves and a similar inflorescence. However, Virginia cutgrass has a hairy ring around the stem nodes (vs. none on Japanese stiltgrass), and it lacks the shiny hairs on the leaf midrib.

Leaf of Japanese stiltgrass showing reflective hairs along midrib Reflective hairs along midrib of Japanese stiltgrass, Leslie J. Mehroff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Similar non-native species: As with the native grasses, there are likely some species of non-native grasses with either leaves or inflorescences that look like Japanese stiltgrass.

Documented Ecological Impacts

Flower spike of Japanese stiltgrass Flower spike of Japanese stiltgrass, Leslie J. Mehroff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Fact Sheets and Identification Links

Control Methods

Plants are shallow rooted and easy to hand pull if the patches are small*. Mowing before seed set is effective (before August). Grass-specific herbicides (clethodim, quizalofop, P-ethyl, sethoxydim) are very effective. Folar applications of glyphosate are effective. Imazapic is also effective in combination with glyphosate, but this should be used only via consultation with a licensed applicator due to the residual soil activity of this type of herbicide. Special rules apply to herbicide use in or near wetlands and water bodies - consult the Maine Board of Pesticides Control..

* Correctly dispose of all plant parts † Follow all label directions when using herbicides

Control Technique Links

Please email invasives.mnap@maine.gov if you have questions about invasive species in Maine

Flower spike of Japanese stiltgrass Flower spike of Japanese stiltgrass