Invasive Species -


Japanese Stilt Grass
(Microstegium vimineum [Trin.] A. Camus)


Photos & Description courtesy of IPANE

What Japanese Stilt Grass does to the habitat

Stilt Grass can monopolize an area within 5 years. It can outcompete Native plants denying them sunlight and nutrients. Nutrient cycling is altered in stilt grass stands.
Not part of a food chain few animals browse on stilt grass. Deer don’t eat it. But it harbors rats that prey on ground nesting birds and eat their eggs.



The plant is tall enough to grasp by the base and pull out the roots. It has surprisingly shallow roots. If it seems more deeply entrechned you might have a look alike, Pennsylvania smartweed before it flowers. And they will have to be pulled for a number of years to exhaust the seed bank.

Large areas you may want to mow or weed whack late in the season before the seeds set. Cutting too early you will find the plants re-grow new flower spikelets. Glysophate herbicide will kill it along with competitors you may want such as Astor and sedges. Herbicides containing imazameth will kill the stilt grass and let many native competitors live.


Common Name

Full Scientific Name

Japanese Stilt Grass Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus

Family Name Common

Family Scientific Name

Grass family Microstegium vimineum



Botanical Glossary

Microstegium vimineum is an annual grass that can grow up to 2 m (6.5 ft.) tall. Its culms root at the nodes forming long, branched, prostrate or reclining stems up to 1.52 m (5 ft.) in length with numerous upright branches resembling individual plants. Both the nodes and internodes are glabrous. The alternate light green leaves are 5-8 cm (2-3 in.) long and up to 15 mm wide. They are lanceolate in shape and taper at both ends. Both upper and lower leaf surfaces are slightly pubescent, except for the silvery line running down the center of the blade. The summit of the leaf sheath collar is ciliate on one or both sides; the membranous ligule is also ciliate. The inflorescence is a terminal, thick-branched panicle 2-7 cm (0.8-2.8 in.) in length, barely if at all exerted from sheathing leaves. It has fewer than five branches, usually only one or two. The spikelets are paired and deciduous. Glumes are present and awnless. The lemmas, two per spikelet, can be awned or awnless although most northeastern specimens appear awned. The 3 mm (0.1 in.) ellipsoid fruit, a caryopsis (grain), ranges from yellow to yellow-purple in color, changing with the season. Microstegium vimineum begins to flower in mid-September. It fruits from late September through early October producing an abundant crop of caryopses. Many of these appear to germinate, giving rise to dense stands of light-green individuals. In late fall, Microstegium fades to pale greenish-yellow or turns pale-purple in color. Page References: Gleason & Cronquist 815, Holmgren 772, Magee & Ahles 191.

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