Microstegium vimineum (Nepalese browntop, or Japanese stiltgrass)



Microstegium vimineum, or stiltgrass, as it is commonly called, is an annual grass.  Seeds germinate in spring and plants grow slowly through the summer months, ultimately reaching 2 to 3½ feet. The leaves are light green, 1 to 3 inches long, and have a distinctive shiny midrib. Stalks of tiny flowers are produced in late summer. Dry fruits are produced soon afterwards, and the plants die, leaving behind 100-1,000 seeds each that can live for years.

The silvery stripe that runs down each leaf distinguishes Microstegium from other grasses.

At Jug Bay, stiltgrass has become one of our most problematic non-native invasive (NNI) species. Even though this annual grass is small and easily pulled, the spread of it is outpacing our efforts to remove it. Stiltgrass is one of about a dozen species of non-native invasive plants that are diminishing the habitat value of our forests for wildlife.

Stiltgrass spreads to form extensive patches. It changes the chemistry of the soil and reduces the germination of some tree species. The only positive observation we have made is that box turtles and snakes can seek shelter in the low growing patches of it.

How You Can Help:

Reduce the spread! If you own land, check for this plant in your yard and woods. Stiltgrass plants are shallow-rooted and are pulled by hand very easily. Bagging and disposing of plants reduces the spread of this NNI. Also, here at Jug Bay, volunteers can be of great assistance in late summer/early fall just before plants are producing seeds. Check our volunteer calendar for removal days or contact the Volunteer Coordinator if you would like to adopt your own plot for removal.

We've produced an identification sheet for our many volunteers who have helped remove this plant over the past few years.

For full species information visit the Plant Conservation Alliance's LEAST WANTED page.