Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Japanese Stilt-grass - Microstegium vimineum   (Trinius) A. Camus
Members of Poaceae:
Only member of Microstegium in NC.
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(Trinius) A. Camus
DistributionThroughout the state, and greatly spreading in recent decades, almost certainly found in all 100 counties, though no collection records yet from the extreme southern Coastal Plain. The gaps in the state should be easily filled in with collecting. The earliest NC collections seen were 1933 from McDowell County and 1936 from Polk County. By the late 1950s it had spread to 27 additional counties.

Native of southeastern Asia; in N.A. from MA to OH and IL, south to northwestern FL, LA, and northeastern TX.
AbundanceCommon to abundant nearly throughout, except uncommon in the Sandhills proper and the southern Coastal Plain. Individual populations may contain hundreds of thousands (millions?) of plants -- looking like a bright green carpet on the forest floor.
HabitatMostly disturbed brownwater floodplain terraces and bottomlands, less often in blackwater systems and less often in undisturbed brownwater systems; moist upland trails and trailsides, moist wood roads, meadows, pastures, cleared or altered former floodplains. This plant, along with Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense), is the worst alien invasive plant in our riverine forests, yet little has been done to eradicate either.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-November.
IdentificationJapanese Stilt-grass typically grows 2-3 feet long, with numerous narrowly elliptical stem leaves, and the stem rooting at the nodes. The upper third to half is generally erect and terminated by a digitate (finger-like) inflorescence of 2-4 slender, strongly ascending to erect "fingers". Each "finger" has numerous spikelets that have ciliate margins. It grows in such dense masses or patches that it often smothers other herbaceous vegetation. In fall and winter the dense light brown thatch is a disturbing and disgusting sight in our bottomland forests.
Taxonomic CommentsA synonym is Eulalia viminea.

Other Common Name(s)Nepalese Browntop, Japanese Grass
State RankSE
Global RankGNR [G5]
State Status
US Status
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Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieAnother floodplain forest, late Oct 2014. MoorePhoto_non_natural
B.A. SorriePiedmont, floodplain forest, July 2010. MoorePhoto_non_natural
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