Randi V.W. Eckel, PhD

Sept. 1, 2015

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Time to attack the Japanese Stiltgrass!

Around here, the Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) is just now starting to go into flower - which means this is a terrific time to attack it! This plant is an invasive, annual grass that is extremely aggressive. Its ability to send out lots of ground rooting aerial roots (which look like 'stilts' when you try to pull up the plants) give this plant a huge competitive advantage over other plants.

Japanese Stiltgrass beginning to flower

Anyone who has done battle with Japanese Stiltgrass knows a few sad facts:

  1. If you ignore it, this plant will set seed and spread, creating monocultures of Japanese Stiltgrass that out-compete and ultimately replace almost everything
  2. if you keep it mowed all season it will vex you by flowering and setting seed on very short plants
  3. it pulls up very easily, but if you keep pulling it early in the season new plants just keep sprouting from the seed bank in the soil

Japanese Stiltgrass aerial roots ('stilts')

We have found that allowing the stiltgrass to grow and then mowing it down just as it goes into flower is very effective! The plants do not have the ability to regrow at this point and it is too late for new plants to sprout and flower. By mowing this plant at this critical time in its life cycle, you can prevent them from producing seed this year. Research has shown that the seeds only survive in the soil for about 3 years, so if you can keep after it and prevent it from setting seed for several years running you can get ahead of this problematic weed.

An area overtaken by Japanese Stiltgrass

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