Microstegium vimineum - (Trin.) A. Camus
Nepalese Browntop
Other English Common Names: Eulalia, Japanese Stiltgrass
Other Common Names: Nepalese browntop
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus (TSN 503829)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.142078
Element Code: PMPOA42010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Microstegium
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Microstegium vimineum
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Reviewed: 18May1993
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Reasons: Introduced.
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
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United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Mississippi (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Virginia (SNA), West Virginia (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Introduced from Asia. USA: VA, NC, KY, TN, AL.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Introduced from Asia. USA: VA, NC, KY, TN, AL.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GAexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MDexotic, MSexotic, NCexotic, NJexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, PAexotic, RIexotic, SCexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, VAexotic, WVexotic

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Habitat Comments: Shaded banks and roadsides.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: High/Medium
Rounded I-Rank: High
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Microstegium vimineum is established in most eastern states; it occurs from New York to Illinois south to Florida and Texas. M. vimineum is slow to invade undisturbed vegetation but spreads quickly and forms dense monocultures in areas with natural or human-caused disturbance. It's habitats include stream banks, river bluffs, floodplains, emergent and forested wetlands, moist woodlands and forests, early successional fields, woodland thickets, and rights-of-way. M. vimineum grows very well under low light conditions such as under a forest canopy. M. vimineum can displace native vegetation in a few years and also impacts ground nesting birds. M. vimineum may also impact ecosystems by altering soil conditions. M. vimineum produces 100-1000 seeds per plant. Seeds remain viable in the soil for at least 3-5 years. Once established, the removal of M. vimineum requires major eradication and restoration efforts.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High/Medium
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Medium
I-Rank Review Date: 09Dec2004
Evaluator: Tomaino, A.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to the Russian Federation, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India, Nepal, Indochina, Thailand, and the Philippines (GRIN 2001).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: Established outside cultivation in the U.S. (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invaded habitats in the U.S. include floodplains, riparian habitats, forests, and swamps (Weber 2003).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Low significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum may alter soil conditions, creating an inhospitable environment for native species; soils beneath M. vimineum had increased nitrification (Tu 2000, Ehrenfeld et al. 2001). Litter and organic soil horizons were thinner and soil pH was higher than in uninvaded areas (Kourtev et al. 1998 cited by Tu 2000).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Moderate significance
Comments: A grass with slender culms, 50-120 cm in height (Weber 2003). Microstegium vimineum spreads quickly and forms dense monocultures (Flora of North America 2003). Dominates the herb layer (E. Farnsworth, pers. comm. 2001). Increases the density of the herb layer (D. Keech, pers. comm. 1999).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum produces sprawling colonies that expand and form dense monocultures; native vegetation can be displaced in a few years (Weber 2003). Microstegium vimineum displaces native wetland and forest vegetation (Swearingen 2002). Microstegium vimineum takes over quality nesting habitat that quail and other wildlife would use (Tu 2000). M. vimineum provides habitat for rats, which prey on native bobwhite and attract other predators (A. Houston, pers. comm. cited by Tu 2000). White-tail deer tend to avoid M. vimineum and feed on native plant species instead (Swearingen 2004). Microstegium vimineum grows very well under low light conditions such as under a forest canopy (Winter et al. 1982). Microstegium vimineum may impact the microbial community of the soil (Kourtev et al. 2002).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No mention of disproportionate impacts on particular native species found in the literature; assumption is that any impacts are not significant.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum occurs on stream banks, river bluffs, floodplains, emergent and forested wetlands, moist woodlands, and in forests (Swearingen et al. 2002; Weber 2003; Swearingen 2004). Some of these communities are likely to be of conservation significance. Microstegium vimineum poses a threat to rare native plants in New York and adjacent states (Hunt and Zaremba 1992). Microstegium vimineum impacts freshwater tidal wetlands and high quality riparian corridors (E. Farnsworth, pers. comm 2001).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High/Medium

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Established in most eastern states; occurs from New York to Illinois south to Florida and Texas (Kartesz 1999; Flora of North America 2003; Swearingen 2004). Distribution is concentrated in lower New England, the Piedmont, Appalachians, and Cumberlands (Flora of North America 2003).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum apparently has negative impacts in greater than 20% of its current generalized range (Tu 2000).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Moderate significance
Comments: Approximately 20% of units, inferred from TNC (2001), Kartesz (1999), and Flora of North America (2003).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum occurs on stream banks, river bluffs, floodplains, emergent and forested wetlands, moist woodlands, forests, early successional fields, woodland thickets, roadside ditches, gas and power-line corridors, paths, roadsides, clearings, disturbed areas, lawns, and gardens (Swearingen et al. 2002; Weber 2003; Swearingen 2004).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum spreads rapidly into disturbed areas (Weber 2003). Occurs in disturbed areas; assumption is that disturbed areas are not declining or remaining stable and therefore this species' total range is not declining or remaining stable.

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum may be near its northern limit in southeastern New York, due to a lack of cold hardiness (Hunt and Zaremba 1992). Another possibility is that Microstegium vimineum may require red clay soils; if soil type is limiting the spread of Microstegium vimineum then it may also be approaching its maximum geographic extent in New York and New England (Hunt and Zaremba 1992). Based on USDA (1990) and Flora of North America (2003), 30-90% of its potential generalized range in the U.S. is currently occupied.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum seeds are dispersed by surface runoff, floodwaters, on human and animal feet, and are carried in hay (Swearingen 2004).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:High/Low significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum spreads rapidly into disturbed areas (Weber 2003). Occurs in disturbed areas; assumption is that disturbed areas are not decreasing or remaining stable and therefore this species' local range is not decreasing or remaining stable.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum is slow to invade undisturbed vegetation but rapidly fills disturbed, mesic, shaded areas (Barden 1987).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Insignificant
Comments: No mention of Microstegium vimineum being established elsewhere outside its native range found in the literature; assumption is that it is not known as an escape except in the region of interest.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum is a colonial species that spreads by rooting at stem nodes that touch the ground (Swearingen 2004). Microstegium vimineum is still considered to be an annual (Flora of North America 2003). However, there is evidence needing further investigation, that a rhizomatous, perennial form occurs in several populations in New Jersey (Ehrenfeld 1999). Microstegium vimineum seeds remain viable in the soil for at least 3 years (Barden 1987). Microstegium vimineum produces 100-1000 seeds per plant (Miller 2003).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Medium

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Once established, the removal of Microstegium vimineum requires major eradication and restoration efforts (Tu 2000). For large investations herbicides such as glyphosate are more practical and effective than hand-pulling or mowing (Swearingen 2004).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Moderate significance
Comments: Microstegium vimineum seeds remain viable in the soil for at least 3 to 5 years or more (Barden 1987; Swearingen 2004).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Medium/Low significance
Comments: For large investations herbicides such as glyphosate are more practical and effective (Swearingen 2004). Care must be taken to avoid applying glyphosate to non-target plants because it will kill or damage most plants it contacts (Swearingen 2004). Since the plant often occurs in monospecific stands this may not be a large issue.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Avoided by grazing animals and infestations are not in extreme or remote habitats (Swearingen 2004); assumption is that accessibility problems are not severe or substantial.
Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18May1993
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Annable, C.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Barden, L.S. 1987. Invasion of Microstegium vimineum (Poaceae), an exotic, annual, shade-tolerant, C4 grass, into a North Carolina floodplain. American Midland Naturalist 118(1):40-45.

  • Ehrenfeld, J. G. 1999. A rhizomatous, perennial form of Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus in New Jersey. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 126(4): 352-358.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2003a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxv + 781 pp.

  • Hitchcock, A.S. 1951. Manual of the grasses of the United States. 2nd edition revised by Agnes Chase. [Reprinted, 1971, in 2 vols., by Dover Publications, Incorporated, New York.]

  • Hunt, D. M., and R. E. Zaremba. 1992. The northeastward spread of Microstegium vimineum (Poaceae) into New York and adjacent states. Rhodora 94(878):167-170.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Kourtev, P. S., J. G. Ehrenfeld, and M. Häggblom. 2002. Exotic plant species alter the microbial community structure and function in the soil. Ecology 83(11): 3152-3166.

  • Miller, J.H. 2003. Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests: A field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 pp.

  • Swearingen, J. M. 2004. September 10 last update. Japanese Stilt Grass, Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) Camus. PCA Alien Plant Working Group. Online. Available: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/mivi1.htm (accessed 2004).

  • Swearingen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slattery, and S. Zwicker. 2002. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 82 pp.

  • Tu, M. 2000. August last update. Element stewardship abstract for Microstegium vimineum, Japanese stilt grass, Nepalese browntop, Chinese packing grass. Edited by John Randall. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. Online. Available: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs/micrvimi.html (accessed 2004).

  • U.S. Geological Survey. 2002. Subregion Hydrologic Unit Boundaries (4-Digit). Version 2.3. January 2002.

  • USDA Agricultural Research Service. 1990. USDA Plants Hardiness Zone Map. Misc. Publ. Number 1475.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2001. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland.URL: http://www.ars-grin.gov/var/apache/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?6438. (Accessed 2004)

  • Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 548 pp.

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