Monday, June 30, 2008

Landscape - Japanese Stiltgrass, an Invasive Plant

Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) is a non-native summer annual grass that is a weed in wetlands, woodlands, right of ways, parks, lawns, and landscapes. It is an invasive weed that loves shade and is a major problem in wooded properties and parklands, particularly in New Castle County. The following is information on this invasive plant and its control.

Japanese Stiltgrass has pale green, lance shaped leaves (broader in the middle) about 3 inches in length that alternate along a branched stalk. The leaves also have a stripe of reflective hairs down the middle that are silvery in appearance. Seed heads are thin spikes and seed production occurs from September to frost (mid October). Seeds germinate earlier than crabgrass in March or April.

Japanese stiltgrass. Photo by Susan Barton, UD Extension Ornamental Horticulture Specialist.

It is critical to stop Japanese stiltgrass from going to seed in September. Mowing is often effective but must be very short and just before flowering to avoid reseeding. Glyphosate herbicide is effective but is non-selective. Acclaim extra (fexoxaprop-p-ethyl) has given good control as a postemergence herbicide, is more selective, and is an option for turfgrass and wooded areas. In contrast, research has shown that dithiopyr and quinclorac applied postemergence were ineffective on Japanese stiltgrass in turf. Research by Judge, Neal, and Derr (NC State and VPI) has also shown that single postemergence applications of the grass herbicides clethodim, fluazifop-P, or sethoxydim controlled Japanese stiltgrass 50 to 88%. These herbicides applied twice provided 82 to 99% control. These are options in landscape beds, wooded landscapes, and non-grassed areas. Japanese stiltgrass may also be controlled with early spring applied pre-emergence materials (target 2 weeks before crabgrass). The same research showed that benefin plus oryzalin, dithiopyr, isoxaben plus trifluralin, oryzalin, oxadiazon, pendimethalin, prodiamine, or trifluralin applied preemergence controlled Japanese stiltgrass 87% or greater 8 weeks after treatment.

Gordon Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent, UD, Kent County

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