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23 July 2012

Microstegium vimineum (Nepalese browntop)

Datasheet Types: Invasive species, Host plant


This datasheet on Microstegium vimineum covers Identity, Overview, Distribution, Dispersal, Hosts/Species Affected, Diagnosis, Biology & Ecology, Environmental Requirements, Natural Enemies, Impacts, Uses, Prevention/Control, Further Information.


Preferred Scientific Name
Microstegium vimineum (Trinius) A. Camus1921 [1922]
Preferred Common Name
Nepalese browntop
Other Scientific Names
Andropogon vimineus Trin. 1832
Arthraxon lanceolatus Miq. 1866
Arthraxon nodosus Kom. 1901
Eulalia cantonensis (Rendle) Hitchcock 1929 [1931]
Eulalia vimenea (Trin.) Kuntze 1891
Eulalia viminea (Trin.) Kuntze 1891
Eulalia viminea var. imberbis (Nees ex Steud.) Kuntze 1891
Eulalia viminea var. variabilis Kuntze 1891
Microstegium aristulatum Robyns & Tournay 1955
Microstegium cantonense (Rendle) A. Camus 1921 [1922]
Microstegium debile (Balansa) A. Camus 1921 [1922]
Microstegium dilatatum Koidzumi 1930
Microstegium imberbe (Nees ex Steud.) Tzvelev 1961
Microstegium nodosum (Kom.) Tzvelev; 1961
Microstegium reticulatum B.S. Sun ex H. Peng & X. Yang 1996
Microstegium vimineum fo. polystachyum (Melderis) T. Koyama 1971
Microstegium vimineum subsp. nodosum (Kom.) Tzvelev 1976
Microstegium vimineum var. monostachyum (Franch. & Sav.) Nakai 1952
Microstegium vimineum var. polystachyum (Franch. & Sav.) Ohwi 1942
Microstegium vimineum var. vimineum Bor 1960
Microstegium vimineum var. willdenowianum (Nees ex Steud.) A. Camus 1922
Microstegium vimineum var. willdenowianum (Nees ex Steud.) Sur 1985
Microstegium willdenowianum Nees ex Steud. 1836
Pollinia cantonensis Rendle 1904
Pollinia debilis Balansa 1890
Pollinia imberbis Nees ex Steud. 1855 [1854]
Pollinia imberbis f. glabriflora
Pollinia imberbis var. willdenowiana (Nees ex Steud.) Hack.1889
Pollinia japonica var. polystachya Franch. & Sav. 1877
Pollinia viminea (Trin.) Merr. 1922
Pollinia willdenowiana (Nees ex Steud.) Benth. 1881
International Common Names
Japanese stiltgrass
Nepalese browntop
Local Common Names
rou zhi you zhu
ashi-boso [slim foot]
annual jew grass
Asian stilt grass
bamboo grass
Chinese packing grass
flexible sea grass
Japanese grass
Japanese stilt grass
Mary's grass
Nepal grass
Nepal microstegium
Vietnamese stilt grass


Japanese stiltgrass, (Microstegium vimineum) infesting woodland, USA.
Woodland infestation
Japanese stiltgrass, (Microstegium vimineum) infesting woodland, USA.
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Japanese stiltgras, (Microstegium vimineum), immature plant in June, USA.
Immature plant
Japanese stiltgras, (Microstegium vimineum), immature plant in June, USA.
James H. Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Dead plants on river margin, USA.
Dead plants
Dead plants on river margin, USA.
James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Close-up of invasive habit
Close-up of invasive habit
Close-up of invasive habit
Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Japanese stiltgras, (Microstegium vimineum), close-up of foliage, USA.
Japanese stiltgras, (Microstegium vimineum), close-up of foliage, USA.
David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Seeds of Japanese stiltgrass, Microstegium vimineum
Seeds of Japanese stiltgrass, Microstegium vimineum
Steve Hurst/USDA NRCS PLANTS Database/via - CC BY-NC 3.0 US

Summary of Invasiveness

Microstegium vimineum is a cosmopolitan annual (therophyte) C4 shade-tolerant grass of forest margins and moist grassy areas. It is native to Asia and is commonly referred to as Nepalese browntop or Japanese stilt grass (Raunkiær, 1934; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012). It was used as packing material for porcelain shipments from Asia to North America in the early twentieth century and was first collected in the USA in 1919 (Gage et al., 2010; Fryer, 2011; EPPO Executive Committee, 2012). The grass can form dense monocultures that crowd out native vegetation and proliferate in low light conditions. Once established, populations rapidly increase easily displacing native species within three to five years (Osborne and Edgin, 2007; EPPO Executive Committee, 2012). M. vimineum is currently listed as a Class C noxious weed in Alabama, an invasive, banned species in Connecticut, and a prohibited species in Massachusetts (Geosystems Research Institute, 2012). It is a regulated species in Wisconsin (IPAW, 2012) and was added to the EPPO Alert List in 2008 where it has since been transferred to the List of Invasive Alien Plants in 2012 (EPPO Executive Committee, 2012).

Taxonomic Tree

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Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Microstegium is a genus of about 15 species of subtropical Asia and Africa (Sprengel, 1815; Wallich, 1821a, b; Steudel, 1855; Camus, 1922; Hitchcock and Chase, 1951; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012) . The complex taxonomic history of M. vimineum produces 32 synonyms in five genera spread over more than 180 years. Adding to the potential for confusion are the four additional genera sometimes used synonymously: Coelarthron, Ischnochloa, Leptatherum and Nemastachys (Wunderlin and Hansen, 2008) . First described in 1832 as Andropogon vimineus by the botanist Karl Bernhard von Trinius from a specimen collected by Nathaniel Wallich in Nepal, this epithet is considered a basionym (Trinius, 1832; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012) .
In 1836, the species was presented as the type Microstegium willdenowianum by the botanist and natural philosopher, Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck based upon a specimen in the herbarium of C. L. Willdenow, a director of the Berlin Botanical Garden in the early nineteenth century (Nees von Esenbeck, 1836) .
The genus name Microstegium is derived from Greek meaning small (in size, quantity, number or dignity) and roof. Nees, however, had failed to provide an authoritative circumscription, which was described in 1855 by Ernst Gottlieb von Steudel, the German authority on grasses (Steudel, 1855) .
Adding to the nomenclature challenges was an earlier assignment of the species by Curtius (Kurt) Sprengel to the genus Pollinia, a catch-all or farrago of unrelated species (Sprengel, 1815) . When the early vagaries of naming were added the sometimes indistinct morphology of the species, for example, the distinction between awned, Microstegium vimineum var. imberbe, and awnless, Microstegium vimineum var. vimineum phenotypes the result was a long list of additional species, varieties, and forms (Fairbrothers and Gray, 1972) . More recentlly, Shukla (1996) refers to the awned variety as var. vimineum, and the awnless as var. willdenowianum. In 1922, the French botanist Aimée Antoinette Camus circumscribed the present accepted binomial Microstegium vimineum (Camus, 1922; Whisenhunt, 2008).

Plant Type

Seed propagated


The following description is from Flora of China Editorial Committee (2012):
M. vimineum is a straggling or decumbent annual (therophyte) plant, usually 0.6-1.0 m in height. Culms decumbent are up to 1 m long. Leaf sheaths are shorter than internodes, the upper usually enclosing cleistogamous spikelets; leaf blades are narrowly elliptic, 4–9 long and 0.2–1.5 cm wide, pubescent, often sparsely, midvein white, apex acuminate; ligule ca. 0.5 mm. Racemes 1–6, ascending, 4–6 cm; rachis internodes linear-clavate, ciliate, shorter than spikelet. Sessile spikelet 4–5.5 mm; lower glume narrowly lanceolate-oblong, back deeply grooved, puberulous-scaberulous or occasionally hispidulous, 0–4 veined between keels, veins connected by veinlets below apex, apex subtruncate; upper glume scabrid on keel, acuminate; lower floret reduced to an inconspicuous linear-lanceolate scale or absent; upper lemma lanceolate or oblong, 1–1.5 mm, acute or bidenticulate, awnless or shortly awned; awn weakly geniculate, often included within spikelet, 6–9 mm; upper palea ovate, ca. 1 mm. Anthers 3, 0.5–1.5 mm.
The plant is often identified by its thin, pale green, tapered leaf blades or by its multiple racemes that may be either terminal or arising from the leaf axils. The alternate leaves have a silvery stripe of reflective hairs down the middle of the upper leaf surface (Swearingen, 2000). The fruit or caryopsis (grain) is yellowish or olive to reddish, and ellipsoid (2.8-3.0 mm) in shape (Tu, 2000; Krings, 2010). The fertile lemma is accompanied by an ovate upper palea, clasping the opposite side of the caryopsis. Additionally an inconspicuous, linear-filiform remnant of the lower floret is often present.
In late fall, M. vimineum is readily identified as it fades to pale greenish-yellow or turns pale-purple in colour (Mehrhoff, 2000).
Being a shade tolerant plant, it is adapted for low-light conditions and uses the C4 pathway for photosynthesis (Barden, 1987; Horton and Neufeld, 1998). M. vimineum lacks the high density of minor veins found in most C4 grasses, and forms, instead, files of distinctive cells (Raghavendra, 2010). 
A perennial form was reported in New Jersey, USA by Ehrenfeld (1999), but was disputed by Mehrhoff (2000) as a case of mistaken identification (Gibson et al., 2002).


M. vimineum is a cosmopolitan grass species native to India, Indo-China, Nepal, China, Korea, Far-east Russia, Philippines, and Japan. There are herbaria records, reports in floras and other documentation enumerating the presence of the species on every continent except Antarctica (ISSG, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012a) .

Distribution Map

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Distribution Table

This content is currently unavailable.

History of Introduction and Spread

M. vimineum was introduced to North America from Asia in 1919. First collected in Tennessee, the species had spread to Atlantic coastal states from Florida to New Jersey (Tu, 2000). With the discovery of M. vimineum in Turkey and southern Caucasus, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) added the species to the EPPO Alert List in 2008 and transferred it to the List of Invasive Alien Plants in 2012 labelling it as an emerging invasive species (EPPO Executive Committee, 2012).The commercial use of the plant as a packing material is reported as a possible pathway of introduction in the United States (Gage et al., 2010). The Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States (Weakley, 2011) gives an indication of the establishment and spread of M. vimineum in the United States: "local" (Fernald 1950), "rarely introduced and possibly not established" (Gleason and Cronquist 1952), "sporadically naturalized" (Godfrey and Wooten 1979), "a rapidly spreading pernicious invader on moist ground, too common" (Wofford, 1989).


Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonsIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
TennesseeAsia1919 YesNo 
Turkey 1999  YesNo
Valdes et al. (2009)

Risk of Introduction

M. vimineum is a very serious invasive species and considered one of the most destructive introduced plants in the United States. It forms extensive and dense patches, outcompeting and eliminating nearly all other herbaceous plants, with control and eradication being difficult at best (Fryer, 2011; Weakley, 2011; ISSG, 2012) . The plant establishes itself most successfully with shallow leaf litter, and reproduces best at high temperatures and high light levels. It uses water as a dispersal vector and so an increased rate of spread is associated with mesic conditions as opposed to dry conditions. Areas associated with flooding and areas with low slope or timber harvest are also beneficial for rapid spread of M. vimineum  (Gage et al., 2010) .

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic) 

Its fruits and seeds are dispersed by wind and water (Tu, 2000; Huebner, 2003; Baiser et al., 2008; Romanello, 2009; Warren et al., 2010; Fryer, 2011). The fruits of M. vimineum can float and disperse throughout an entire wetland or alluvial floodplain during high-water events (Mehrhoff, 2000).

Vector Transmission (Biotic) 

Animals aid in the dispersion of the fruits and seeds.

Accidental Introduction

M. vimineum spreads along road ways facilitated by the movement of dormant seeds in road maintenance (Christen and Matlack, 2008; Rauschert et al., 2010). It has been used for basket weaving but it is neither found nor propagated in the ornamental horticulture market. Although it has not been used as forage in the USA, it is occasionally found as a forage species in its native range (Fryer, 2011).
Its propagules (seed, fruit) have previously been transported on vehicles and in hay and soil but there is a low to moderate risk of accidental introduction as a contaminant of bird seeds, soil and hay (Tu, 2000; Fryer, 2011).

Intentional Introduction

The species was used extensively as a packing material for porcelain, which may have contributed to its invasion into the United States. There is no conclusion as to the nature of the introduction of M. vimineum into the southern Caucasus region (Valdés et al., 2009; EPPO Executive Committee, 2012).

Pathway Causes

Pathway Vectors

Hosts/Species Affected

M. vimineum impedes regeneration of native woody species and lowers overall species diversity and stem densities (Oswalt et al., 2007). One study found that it inhibited the success of small-seeded trees and reduced tree survival after one growing season by more than 20%, negatively impacting on Acer negundo (box elder), Platanus occidentalis (sycamore) and Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip poplar) (Flory and Clay, 2010).
An infestation of M. vimineum documented in 2002 in Chapman State Park, Maryland, USA showed adverse impact on Myosotis macrosperma Engelm (largeseed forget-me-not), Solidago bicolor (white goldenrod), Arisaema dracontium (green dragon) and Nemophila aphylla (smallflower baby blue eyes) (Imlay, 2012).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

The grass is similar in appearance to the North American native whitegrass Leersia virginica with which it often co-exists (Mehrhoff, 2000). It is also similar to the North American invasive Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius (basketgrass), as well as the native Oplismenus hirtellus subsp. setarius. It can be readily confused with another North American native, Dichanthelium clandestinum (deertongue) and may also be mistaken for Arthraxon hispidus (small carpgrass).


M. vimineum grows along mesic roadsides, railroad right-of-way ditches, utility right-of-way, logging roads, roadsides floodplain forest, forest wetland, herbaceous and shrub wetland, early and late successional forest, planted forest, forest edges and margins, woodland borders, floodplains, grassy areas, vacant lot, managed landscapes, and stream sides; in mesic upland sites, usually in moderate to dense shade. The findings of Cheplick (2010) state that "The large size and subsequent greater reproduction of plants in populations of open, sunny habitats such as along roadsides and disturbed drainage ditches or streams, provides a major source of propagules able to colonize new areas following dispersal."     
M. vimineum will not grow in areas with periodic standing water, nor in full, direct sunlight (Fairbrothers and Gray, 1972; Hunt and Zaremba, 1992; Redman, 1995; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012).
In mountainous regions, M. vimineum is found below elevations of 4000 feet (Evans et al., 2006). Sunlight and moist soil, therefore, increase the chances of Japanese stiltgrass establishment and favour its growth. Establishment and spread are limited in shaded environments (Huebner, 2003; Fryer, 2011).

Habitat List

CategorySub categoryHabitatPresenceStatus
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural landSecondary/tolerated habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural landSecondary/tolerated habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchardsSecondary/tolerated habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchardsSecondary/tolerated habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areasPrincipal habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areasPrincipal habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedRail / roadsidesPrincipal habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedRail / roadsidesPrincipal habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedUrban / peri-urban areasPrincipal habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedUrban / peri-urban areasPrincipal habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forestsPrincipal habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forestsPrincipal habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslandsPrincipal habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslandsPrincipal habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanksPrincipal habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanksPrincipal habitatNatural
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalWetlandsPrincipal habitatHarmful (pest or invasive)
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalWetlandsPrincipal habitatNatural

Biology and Ecology


Chromosome base number of M. vimineum is x = 10, 2n = 20 and 40; chromosomes are small (Watson and Dallwitz, 1992).
There is evidence of genetic differences among M. vimineum populations, conferring higher shade tolerance in some populations that have larger leaves. One experiment showed that two test populations significantly increased biomass production under favourable conditions, unlike a third population. In this experiment the most productive populations also responded to shade stress via greater specific leaf area (SLA) while the third population did not (Droste et al., 2009).

Reproductive Biology

M. vimineum produces abundant seed and relies entirely on its seed bank for its annual recruitment. The seeds may need a period of stratification (cool temperatures and high moisture) before they will germinate (Woods, 1989) and seeds stored in the soil may remain viable for as long as five years (Barden, 1991). The seeds may have low germination rates but many seeds are produced by each plant, resulting in an estimated 0.1– 4 million seeds per m² (Barden, 1987; Woods, 1989; Gibson et al., 2002; Judge et al., 2008; Warren et al., 2010). Each tiller of M. vimineum typically produces one terminal raceme and two to seven axillary racemes; each tiller may produce 100 to 1000 seeds per year (Cheplick, 2010). 
It grows quickly in low light conditions, sometimes forming dense monocultures (monospecific stands), fruits within a single season, and is moved easily into disturbed habitats by natural means (e.g., flood scouring) and artificial means (e.g., mowing, tilling, foot traffic, and other soil disturbing activities) (Swearingen, 2000; EPPO Executive Committee, 2012). M. vimineum seeds reportedly have short-term persistence in soil ranging from one to five years (Barden, 1987; Gibson et al., 2002; Vidra et al., 2007). There are few reports or studies on M. vimineum germination though open sites and little to no litter favour germination (Fryer, 2011).
M. vimineum seed matures until fall frosts followed by plant death (Gibson et al., 2002). Seeds are also able to survive submersion in water for periods of up to 10 weeks. Barden (1991) reports that seeds can germinate while under water, but the plants do not grow. If standing water is removed, more seeds will germinate shortly afterwards.
The plant is both cleistogamous and chasmogamous (self- and cross-pollinated) (Huebner, 2003; Kuoh, 2003).

Physiology and Phenology

M. vimineum shows "extreme plasticity" in morphology, producing both flowers and stolons under a wide range of nutrient and light conditions (Fryer, 2011). Flowering and fruiting occurs in late summer (August–November); senesces in early fall (Evans et al., 2006; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012).
The reproductive success and establishment of the plant in woodlands "may be due to high tolerance to a range of intraspecific densities and to an ability to set seed under shady conditions even when densities are high" (Cheplick, 2010).
It is a variable species, usually with apparently awnless spikelets, where in fact a weakly developed awn is enclosed within the glumes. Sometimes the awn is exserted and obvious; rarely is it completely absent (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012). This species variability may have led to attempts to circumscribe varieties, subspecies, forms and novel species leading to taxonomic confusion.
Being a shade tolerant plant, it is adapted for low-light conditions and uses the C4 pathway for photosynthesis (Barden, 1987; Horton and Neufeld, 1998). M. vimineum lacks the high density of minor veins found in most C4 grasses, and forms, instead, files of distinctive cells (Raghavendra, 2010). 
M. vimineum community and species responses to a future carbon dioxide enriched atmosphere may be mediated by other environmental factors and will depend on individual species responses (Belote et al., 2008). High carbon dioxide levels may negatively affect M. vimineum compared to plant species better able to assimilate extra carbon dioxide (Fryer, 2011). 


M. vimineum is associated in North America with several other non-native species in the United States: garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica), sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) and Norway maple (Acer platanoides) (Gibson et al., 2002; Morrison and Mauck, 2007; Dogra et al., 2010; Fryer, 2011).

Environmental Requirements

It grows in temperate to warm continental climates. There is little available specific information about temperature ranges for the species. The coldest reported winter temperatures for a seed bank of M. vimineum are approximately -21 to -23 °C (Redman, 1995). This low temperature would equate with USDA Plant Hardiness Zone of 6b. There are no specific studies of precipitation requirements. 
In the United States it is found in acidic soils (pH 5.8 to 4.8); some populations are established, however, on limestone or marble derived soils. Where it occurs, the soils typically have average levels of potassium and phosphorus but have high levels of nitrogen (Redman, 1995; Tu, 2000). It is commonly found on silty to sandy loams and on clays (red clays in the Piedmont), and prefers damp or wet soils but does not tolerate standing water (Barden, 1987; Hunt and Zaremba, 1992; Gibson et al., 2002; ISSG, 2012). Dry upland soils or “highly disturbed" soils such as gravel and dirt mounds by roadsides may also provide a suitable habitat (Swearingen, 2000; Touchette and Romanello, 2009Fryer, 2011). 
The species thrives and reproduces most successfully in North America with canopy openness, and the species occurs less frequently and grows poorly in shade (Barden, 1987; Gibson et al., 2002; Claridge and Franklin, 2003; Cole and Weltzin, 2004; Glasgow and Matlack, 2007; Marshall and Buckley, 2007; Eschtruth and Battles, 2009; Warren et al., 2010).
When provided with adequate leaf-litter, it is highly competitive, especially in low light conditions (Leicht et al., 2005; Marshall and Buckley, 2007). M. vimineum has been shown to raise soil pH and have an associated increase in N-mineralization and nitrification, as well as decreased litter thickness (Kourtev et al., 1998; Ehrenfeld et al., 2001).


Climate typeDescriptionPreferred or toleratedRemarks
Af - Tropical rainforest climate> 60mm precipitation per monthTolerated 
Am - Tropical monsoon climateTropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))Tolerated 
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer< 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])Tolerated 
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate< 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])Tolerated 
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all yearWarm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all yearPreferred 
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summerWarm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summersTolerated 
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winterWarm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)Tolerated 
Df - Continental climate, wet all yearContinental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)Tolerated 
Dw - Continental climate with dry winterContinental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)Tolerated 

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude lower (m)Altitude upper (m)

Air Temperature

ParameterLower limit (°C)Upper limit (°C)
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month-23 

Soil Tolerances

Soil texture > light
Soil texture > medium
Soil reaction > acid
Soil reaction > neutral
Soil reaction > alkaline
Soil drainage > free
Soil drainage > impeded

List of Pests

This content is currently unavailable.

Notes on Natural Enemies

Thirteen species of fungi and eight arthropod species are reported for the genus Microstegium (Zheng et al., 2006).

Natural enemies

Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Balansia andropogonisPathogen
to genus  Attacks rice
to species   
Cerebella paspaliPathogen
to genus   
Lethe confusaHerbivore
to genus   
Lethe europaHerbivore
to genus   
Melanitis phedimaHerbivore
to genus   
Meliola setariaePathogen
to genus   
Phakopsora incompletaPathogen
to genus   
Phyllachora ischaemiPathogen
to genus   
Phyllachora leptothecaPathogen
to genus   
Puccinia aestivalisPathogen
to genus   
Puccinia benguetensisPathogen
to genus   
Puccinia polliniaePathogen
to genus   
Puccinia polliniae-imberbisPathogen
to genus   
Puccinia polliniicolaPathogen
to genus   
Semiaphis montanaHerbivore
to genus   
Ustilaginoidea polliniaePathogen
to genus   
Ypthima baldusHerbivore
to genus   
Ypthima baldus zodinaHerbivore
to genus   

Impact Summary

Environment (generally)Positive
Human healthNegative

Impact: Economic

The implicit alteration of recreational and hunting preserves may be assumed to have an economic impact, though there is no specific information.

Impact: Environmental

Impact on Habitats
M. vimineum alters the structure of native plant communities and may affect ecosystems through competitive exclusion and reduction of light availability (Flory and Clay, 2009) . Furthermore, it can alter the microbial compositions of soils (Kourtev et al., 2002).
Nagy et al. (2011) suggested that it may provide some benefit in areas where populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have depleted native herbaceous cover, serving as habitat for ground amphibians such as frogs and toads (anurans) . As this plant is unpalatable to deer and livestock, its establishment and spread is accelerated by white-tailed deer and along with canopy disturbances interacts with herbivory to magnify the impact (Miller and Matlack, 2010; Eschtruth and Battles, 2009) .

Impact on Biodiversity

The plant reduces indigenous herbaceous species productivity and diversity and decreases arthropod abundance and richness across multiple trophic levels (Simao et al., 2010) . The northern pearly-eye butterfly, (Lethe anthedon) in New Jersey, on the other hand, has adapted to M. vimineum as a host plant (Swearingen, 2000; Stichte, 2011) .
In North American it is a threat to eastern deciduous forests creating near monospecific stands that are highly resistant to re-colonization by native species (Oswalt et al., 2007; Flory and Clay, 2010). 

Risk and Impact Factors


Proved invasive outside its native range
Has a broad native range
Abundant in its native range
Highly adaptable to different environments
Is a habitat generalist
Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
Pioneering in disturbed areas
Tolerant of shade
Highly mobile locally
Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
Fast growing
Has high reproductive potential
Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Reproduces asexually

Impact outcomes

Altered trophic level
Damaged ecosystem services
Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Increases vulnerability to invasions
Modification of fire regime
Modification of nutrient regime
Modification of successional patterns
Monoculture formation
Reduced native biodiversity
Threat to/ loss of endangered species
Threat to/ loss of native species

Impact mechanisms

Antagonistic (micro-organisms)
Competition - monopolizing resources
Competition - shading
Competition - smothering
Rapid growth

Likelihood of entry/control

Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


Economic Value 
M. vimineum has little to no current uses outside of the basket weaving craft (Tu, 2000) .
Social Benefit 
It is not intentionally planted (EPPO Executive Committee, 2012) .
Environmental Services
Although there is little information available for the effects of the plant on other ecosystem services in its native range, it is highly destructive to ecosystems in non-indigenous ranges.

Uses List

Materials > Baskets
Animal feed, fodder, forage > Forage

Prevention and Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


Manual, mechanical, environmental/cultural, and chemical methods are all useful to varying degrees in controlling M. vimineum (Tu, 2000) . Various private and public entities in the United States as well as the European Union have developed an early detection and rapid response program (integrated vegetative management, IPM) to deal with the introduction, spread, control, education (public awareness), and management of M. vimineum (EPPO Executive Committee, 2012; USDA-ARS, 2012b) .
Control should be directed to propagule source reduction and eradication programs along roadways and other sunlit, disturbed areas cutting off shaded ecosystem sink populations (Pulliam, 1988; Warren et al., 2010) .
Physical control methods may include hand pull or mechanical cutting of plants using a mower or "weed whacker" on vegetative shoots of small infestations (Judge et al., 2008) . No biological control agent is available at this time.
Fenoxaprop-p-ethyl, has been shown to be the best chemical for controlling M. vimineum populations and maintaining native understory flora in mixed hardwood stands of eastern North America (Jacques, 2007; Judge et al., 2008; Flory, 2010; Pomp et al., 2010) .  However, u sing systemic herbicides such as glyphosate (e.g. Roundup), a herbicidal soap like pelargonic acid that kills the plants (e.g. Scythe) or herbicides specific to annual grasses may be a more effective choice. If applying glyphosate to M. vimineum in wetland sites, use the formulation labelled for wetland areas (Swearingen, 2000; Judge et al., 2008; Swearingen et al., 2010) .
There is some ongoing research which suggests that invasions of M. vimineum can be controlled or eliminated using post-emergent grass specific herbicide followed by a spring application of pre-emergent herbicide (Flory, 2010) .
Ecosystem Restoration 
M. vimineum control and management is difficult because invaded areas are often very large and the seed can persist in the soil for several years. The plant can be removed by hand-weeding, mowing, or selective herbicides, however, the re-establishment of a resilient, self-sustaining ecosystem or community will depend upon the variables of the control method. Purdue University Extension observes that "although multiple methods may be used to kill M. vimineum, there are few practical techniques. Hand-weeding can be effective for small invasions and mowing can help to reduce seed production in flat, easily accessible areas. For large invasions in areas with trees or steep topography, selective herbicides are preferred" (Kleczewski et al., 2011) . Further complicating restoration plans, for example, are the biological and physical alterations such as the differences in non-native earthworm densities in M. vimineum infested soils that have been reported (Kourtev et al., 1999) . In addition, M. vimineum restoration activities are increasing available nitrogen and favoring invasive species, which in turn detracts from restoration success (DeMeester and Richter, 2009) . 

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

M. vimineum dispersal is an area for research as well as a potentially effective weak point for targeted management (Warren et al., 2010) .
Precipitation requirements and temperature extrema are also areas of needed investigation. Additional research should target M. vimineum's impact on rare and endangered species.
Furthermore, research on indigenous and non-indigenous pathogens (both general and host specific) is scarce and invites additional study.

Links to Websites

EPPO A2 list 
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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