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Japanese Stilt Grass

Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) Camus
Synonym(s): Chinese packing grass & Nepalese browntop

Japanese stilt grassJapanese stilt grass
Chris Evans, University of Georgia


Commodities Affected:
Forestry and Natural Areas



Japanese stilt grass was first introduced into the United States in Tennessee around 1919 and likely escaped as a result of its use as a packing material for porcelain. It occurs on stream banks, river bluffs, floodplains, emergent and forested wetlands, moist woodlands, early successional fields, uplands, thickets, roadside ditches, gas and power-line corridors, lawns and gardens. Japanese stilt grass threatens native understory vegetation in full sun to deep shade. Japanese stilt grass readily invades disturbed shaded areas, like floodplains that are prone to natural scouring, and areas subject to mowing, tilling and other soil-disturbing activities including white-tailed deer traffic. It spreads opportunistically following disturbance to form dense patches, displacing native wetland and forest vegetation as the patch expands. Japanese stilt grass appears to be associated with moist, acidic to neutral soils that are high in nitrogen. 


In 100 Years of Change in the Distribution of Common Indiana Weeds by William and Edith Overlease (2002) reported that Japanese stilt grass was not recorded in Indiana in 1899 (Coulter’s Catalogue of Indiana Plants) and in 1940 (Deam’s Flora).  In 2002, Overlease noted that Japanese stilt grass was one of our most recent and locally aggressive weeds. Overlease recorded Japanese stilt grass in the following 17 counties: Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Martin, Monroe, Ohio, Orange, Park, Perry, Posey, Scott, Spencer, and Switzerland. It was also reported by staff of the IDNR in Jennings, Ripley and Washington counties. In 2007, Japanese stilt grass was reported at Fort Harrison State Park in Marion County.