Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum)
Chinese packing grass
Asian stilt grass
Andropogon vimineum Trin.
Eulalia viminea (Trin.) Kuntze
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for Japanese
stiltgrass is Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) Camus.
NATIVE STATUS: Introduced, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Stiltgrass is a weak rooted and sprawling annual grass that can grow to
heights of 6 feet, though it is usually much shorter (usually 0.5 to 3 ft).
Taller plants typically lie flat along the ground or propped up against
other vegetation. Plants usually have multiple weak stems, with aerial
rootlets near the base, giving rise to the common name ‘stiltgrass’. Stilt-
grass often has multiple stems, branching near the base. The stems are
thin and somewhat fleshy when actively growing, but become wiry as
plant dies back. Stems smooth and may have some hair just below leaves
on leaf sheath. The longer stems tend to sprawl and root at nodes. The
leaves are 2-4 inches long and around ½ inch wide with both ends point-
ed and smooth edges. A silvery, off-center midrib often present. The
leaves are well-spaced along the stem (not from stem base). The flowers
are born on delicate stalks and may have 1, 2, or 3 spikes. The seed fruit
is awned and bristly. The roots are Thin and weak and pull out of the
ground easily. Rootlets (‘stilt’ roots) descend from nodes along lower sec-
tions of the stem.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Japanese stiltgrass propogates itself by
reseeding. Stilt grass reproduces exclusively by seed and one plant may
produce 100 to 1,000 seeds that typically fall close to the parent plant.
Seeds may be carried by water during heavy rains or move about in con-
taminated hay, soil or mud stuck in footwear. Stilt grass seeds remain vi-
able in the soil for five or more years and germinate readily.
HABITAT TYPES: Preferred habitats include floodplain forests and
stream banks, river bluffs, forest edges, moist woodlands, early succes-
sional fields, uplands, thickets, road and trail edges, damp fields, ditches
and lawns, other shady areas prone to flooding, and gas and power-line
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Japanese stiltgrass can be found in full
sun to deep shaded forest conditions and is associated with moist, rich
soils that are acidic, neutral or basic and high in nitrogen.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Japanese stiltgrass flowers late sum-
mer through early fall.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Japanese stiltgrass is an aggressively in-
troduced species that occurs from Florida north to the lower New England
states and extends west to the Mississippi River and Ohio Valley regions.
It is more sparcely distributed in those states just west of the Mississippi
River (Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Oklahoma). It is antici-
pated that Japanese stiltgrass will continue to spread westward.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION:
Grass specimens can be found on trails marked in red.
Appalachian Trail/Old Trail
South Ridge/North Ridge
Rolling Meadows/ Lost Mountain
The specific distribution of Japanese stiltgrass has not been determined.
IMPORTANCES AND USES: Japanese stiltgrass, is an aggressive in-
vader of forest lands throughout the eastern United States. Infestations
can impact the diversity of native species, reduce wildlife habitat, and
disrupt important ecosystem functions. Stiltgrass is considered one of the
most damaging invasive plant species in the United States. Infestations
spread rapidly and the seed can remain viable in the soil for up to five
Crooked Run Valley