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8/3/17- Chinese Silvergrass

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

Do you ever look in the mirror and think to yourself, “Wow, this is going to be a bad hair day”? I believe if this invasive species had a mirror it would think the same thing every day. Chinese Silvergrass is a highly invasive grass that has a wild and frizzy appearance. It, like the other invasives, appeared in the U.S. in the late 1950s and has since become a highly desirable ornamental. Unfortunately, this grass quickly becomes a headache for negligent gardeners and unlucky landowners.

Miscanthus sinensis has many common names but the most popular one is Maiden Hair Grass; maybe that is because the name is so fitting! The grass looks like a “clump” of hair with its green stems and wispy ends. It can reach 5-10 feet in height and begins seeding in September. The edges of the leaves are mostly straight while the tufts at the end are wild and uncontrollable. All 12 months of the year, this grass is enlarging its territory.  Most biologists and botanist will refer to it as Chinese Silvergrass. Along with its many common names, this grass also has a variety of cultivars, which can be found at any given nursery or other home improvement type store. Which brings us to the problem: the invasive properties of this grass are overlooked because of its aesthetics! Many gardeners and homeowners buy the plant as an ornamental, in hopes that it will bring some quirkiness to their yard. Little do they know, Chinese Silvergrass is like a runaway convict. It escapes from initial ornamental plantings and begins to form extensive infestations along roadsides and forest margins. It thrives in habitats that have recently been burned. If you have Chinese Silvergrass on your property before a prescribed burn, beware that this grass is highly flammable and should be monitored at all times. To further devastate natural vegetation, Maiden Hair Grass is shade tolerant and will survive along the forest floor. The invasive species arrived in the U.S. in the late 1950s from Asia. As time has passed, its use has remained the same. Chinese Silvergrass and its many cultivars are still desired by those that want to give a funky look to their yard.

If you are out on your land in the next few weeks, keep an eye out for this species! Roadsides and forest margins are its preference, but if you’re land is or was part of an old home site, chances are you may be covered in Maiden Hair Grass! Like other invasives, the easiest way to get rid of this species is by treating it with glyphosate. If you are unable to kill this species before a burn, monitor it closely during the burn. You may not recognize the name of this species, but I guarantee you will recognize it when you see it!

By: Red Clay

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