Japanese stiltgrass is an annual grass native to temperate climates in southeastern Asia. It was first introduced to North America when it was used as packing material in the 1900’s.
Japanese stiltgrass has a wide range of habitat preferences including stream banks, river bluffs, forested wetlands, home lawns and gardens allow it to spread easily to new locations. This species requires land disturbance, such as mowing, grazing or burning to invade an area and once it is established, it can dominate the plant community within 5 years.
Japanese stiltgrass has become established across the eastern United States from New York to Florida, as well as west to Texas and Illinois. Populations are not yet found in Canada, but can be found nearby in bordering states.
Impacts of Japanese Stiltgrass
- Create dense stands of vegetation that dominate habitats and out-compete native plants.
- Produce large amounts of seeds that are able to survive in the seed bank for long periods of time.
- Seeds are easily spread long distances by hikers or pets.
How to Identify Japanese Stiltgrass
- Annual grass reaching up to 1.1 m (3.6 ft) tall.
- Leaves are pale green, about 7 cm (2.8 in) long and wider in the middle, with a shiny midrib. In the fall, leaves turn dark and the plant dies.
- Flowers have 1 to 3 spikes with the flowers clustered along the spike.
- Yellow to reddish seeds are shed in late fall.
- Can be easily distinguished from other grasses by the silver stripe along the leaf and the leaf shape.
What You Can Do
- Learn how to properly identify Japanese stiltgrass and how to prevent accidentally spreading this invasive species.
- Avoid using invasive plants in gardens and landscaping.
- Buy native or non-invasive plants from reputable garden suppliers. See Grow Me Instead: Beautiful Non-Invasive Plants for Your Garden.
- Do not dispose of invasive plants in the compost pile – discard them in the regular garbage.
- When hiking, reduce the spread of invasive plants and seeds by staying on trails keeping pets on a leash.
- If you find Japanese Stiltgrass or other invasive species in the wild, please contact the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, or visit EDDMapS to report a sighting.
OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. (2021). Japanese Stiltgrass. Retrieved from: www.invadingspecies.com.
This factsheet may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes.
Header photo by Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org