Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports Japanese stiltgrass detected in Michigan

Aquatic invasive species super plants! Withstanding acidic soil, variable light conditions, flooding and, multiplying beyond control in a single year.

September 12, 2017 - Author: ,

Japanese stilt grass has a “petite bamboo” appearance and assymetrical lance-shaped leaves Photo credit: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org
Japanese stilt grass has a “petite bamboo” appearance and assymetrical lance-shaped leaves Photo credit: Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

First reported on the Michigan State University Extension website as a watch for invasive plant in 2006, and again to raise awareness in 2016, as this invasive plant progressed across several neighboring states. Now, the battle against the non-native Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) has come to Michigan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported on September 1 that this invasive plant was found by volunteers in Scio Township in Washtenaw County and is the first detection of this species in Michigan.

The DNR states in its report that the species is believed to have arrived in the U.S. from Asia in the early 20th century, when it was used as a packing material for fine china. It is now widely distributed along the East Coast and in southern states.

It is considered highly invasive, and is an opportunistic spreader of disturbed areas along banks, ditches, woods and roadways. Seeds can be transported by animals and by water and stay viable for up to five years. However, it can also spread through rooting nodes touching the ground. This invasive species is often found in places that were over browsed by deer leaving bare patches of soil exposed.

Resembling small delicate bamboo, Japanese stiltgrass can grow to two or three feet tall. It can grow equally well in the sun or shade. It does have a couple of look-a-likes, such as, smartweeds (Polygonum spp.), whitegrass (Leersia virginica), and Northern shorthusk (Brachyelytrum aristosum).

Becoming familiar with our natives will help you to identify and report any non-native invasive findings. The DNR is requesting that landowners, land managers and anyone spending time in the outdoors to be on the lookout for Japanese stiltgrass and to report the location and photos of any suspected findings to Greg Norwood. You can also report suspected findings and a photo to the Michigan Invasive Species Information Network.

For more information about aquatic invasive species, contact Beth Clawson, MSU Extension educator. To learn more about invasive organisms and invasive aquatic plants contact Michigan State University Extension Natural Resources educators who are working across Michigan to provide aquatic invasive species educational programming and assistance. You can contact an educator through MSU Extension’s Find an Expert search tool using the keywords “Natural Resources Water Quality.”

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