Japanese Stiltgrass, Microstegium vimineum

Scientific Name:  
Microstegium vimineum

Common Names:  Japanese stiltgrass, Bamboo grass, Asian stiltgrass, Nepalese browntop


Research Summary
: Austin L., Bre F.
Austin: The Japanese stiltgrass is a type of species with many different, interesting facts. While I was doing my research I found out that it produces monotypic stands, which is a group of one species that crowds out other species. That can affect plants and animals around it. It impacts other plants by living in shady areas and absorbing sunlight so other plants have difficulties with growing. My research was fairly difficult because some facts were not stated in web pages. Also, some facts I found on the web were incorrect so I had to make sure everything was right. Also, many websites repeated the same information. Overall, three main resources helped me the most with my research.

I was surprised to find how big this plant is and how much damage it can do to the environment. One of the most important things I discovered was that this plant can be exterminated, but only under special circumstances.

Bre: Doing this research project was mostly hard for me but I found some really good information about Japanese stiltgrass that I never knew before. The most interesting fact I learned was that nothing eats this species. All I know for sure is that I do not want this in my garden.

Identifying Characteristics
  • Turns pale, greenish-yellow or turns pale purple.
  • 5-8 cm leaves.
  • Leaves are narrow and are lanced shaped.
Stems and Branches
  • Stems up to 1.52 m in length. 
  • Up to 5 branches.
  • Stem is long and lightly hairy and has silvery stripe at the top of the hairs.
  • 3 mm circle fruit ranges from yellow to yellow-purple, changing with the species.
  • Grows to 2m tall or 5 feet in height.
  • Has a sprawling mat-like manner.


Taxonomy of Species

  Scientific Classification
 What That Classification Means
 Kingdom  Plantae  All living or extinct plants with many eukaryotic cells, they don't move,
 make their own food, and some are non-vascular, but some are vascular.
 Phylum  Magnoliophyta  Produce seeds enclosed in an ovary.
 Class  Liliopsida  Seed plants that produce an embryo with a single embryonic leaf.
 Order  Cyperales  An order of flowering plants.
 Family  Poaceae  The grasses.
 Genus  Microstegium  Small covering.
 Species  Microstegium viminueum  Scientific name: viminueum

Similar species include:   Leersia virginica

Location and Movement
Origin/ Native Range
 Japanese stiltgrass is originally from tropical Asia.
 Introduced first as packing material from Asia. It started in the southeast and rapidly spread to the
 New England area.
Spread of Species  Spreads to different places by attaching its sticky seeds to anyone or anything that walks through it
 and comes off in different locations.
Where is it now    invasive?
  • Now invasive to the southeastern states of the United States. 
  • Overall, M. vimineum was reported invasive in states CT, DC, DE, GA, IN, KY, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, and WV.

Is this species in Maine?
 Japanese stilt grass has not been found in Maine.  Multiple websites have reported on Japanese 
 stilt grass as being in Acadia National Park but I, Austin, contacted the Acadia staff and they say
 otherwise. Therefore, Japanese Stilt grass is not in Maine.
Where has it been

 Closest location is Massachusetts.
How was this species introduced?

Natural Environment
  • It prefers to live near moist soils that shaded from full sun.
  • Japanese stilt grass prefers flood plain forests, early and late successional forests, abandoned fields, and other habitats like these.  
  • It can also be found in marshes, ditches, moist woods, flood plains, woodland boarders, damp meadows, shady lawns and along stream sides.                                                          
Climate and Temperature Range
 Prefers around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but has a tolerance for cold temperatures.

Obtaining  It gets it's nutrition from the glucose (sugar) it makes by photosynthesis. 
Consumed By
 The caterpillar of the northern pearly eye butterfly.  I have not found anymore legitimate organisms
 that consume Japanese stiltgrass.

Ecological  Japanese stiltgrass grows in the shade very well and densely covers the floor of a forest, thereby
 preventing the growth of other plants including young trees and shrubs.  It is difficult to get rid of of
 once it covers large areas.
Economic   It cost money to rip it out of the ground and to use grass specific herbicide.

Biological  Deer, cows, and even goats will not feed on this species, therefore having animals graze on it
 will not be an effective way of control. 
  • Can be mowed in late summer close to the ground and can also be taken up with weed eaters or similar grass cutting tools.
  • Hand pulling or mowing at peak bloom in September before the seeds set it will help control this species.
  • Seeds can stick to clothes and skin resulting in reproduction.
  • Flooding is a way to get rid of it but it can take more than three months.  Flooding may fail though because the seeds can survive periods of inundation of at least ten weeks. 
  • There are not many effective ways to get rid of M. vimineum.
 Cultural  There are no programs currently active.
 Chemical  Use a grass specific herbicide.  The chemical is herbicide glyphosate.  Must be cautious when
 applying this herbicide to M. vimineum because it can kill or damage almost any plant-like
 species it encounters.  Herbicide and it's toxic chemicals can be hazardous to the human health
 and other species when being used.

Interesting Facts