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06/19/18- Monkey Grass

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

This year, the weather has gone from one extreme to another in the blink of an eye. The humidity has most gardens and flower beds looking a little sad and wilted. One grass that can survive almost any summer element is creeping liriope. More affectionately known as monkey grass, creeping liriope is a very common invasive that can be seen throughout the Gulf coast.

Most people in the south are all about landscaping and curb appeal Southern women want their yard to be featured in a Southern Living magazine or at least win “Yard of the Year”. This means pouring heart and soul into the flower beds and keeping a very manicured front lawn. In every other yard, I bet you could find monkey grass. Unfortunately, this species isn’t confined to just that yard. Chances are, monkey grass/creeping liriope is now all over the neighborhood and has become a force to be reckoned with. Monkey grass is a very dense evergreen that is mostly used for ground cover. Tufts or clumps of grassy stalks stem from one stem and have a very distinct lilac flower that appears in the summer. It also has green and/or black berries that shoot up in late summer and continue to hang on through winter. This highly aggressive invasive spreads by underground stems and also tiny corms (an underground storage bin used by plants to escape extreme weather conditions such as droughts or winters) that give life to many more generations of liriope! This invasive thrives in full sun or shade and is not picky when it comes to soil type…making it very hard to contain! Most seeds are dispersed by animal or bird which is how most clumps of monkey grass end up in our forests! It is not uncommon for many landowners to find monkey grass/creeping liriope in unmanaged food plots during the summer months, especially if the land is adjacent to a “yard of the year”.

Monkey grass is just another species to cross off the DO NOT PLANT list. It is very aggressive and very tolerant which makes it very difficult to kill. Monkey grass will choke down native vegetation and take over any open space it can reach! To avoid an infestation, it is best to physically remove clumps of grass as soon as they are spotted.

By: Red Clay

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