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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: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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