Microstegium vimineum: What George Ainslie’s discovery means to us
Japanese stilt grass, Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus (Poaceae), is currently known from at least 25 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. It is native to Eastern Asia, probably from China and Japan. It was first reported in the United States in 1919. A specimen of an unkown grass was collected by Entomologist George G. Ainslie in Knoxville, Tennessee and sent to the Smithsonian Institution for identification. Since then, it has spread to half of the states in the U. S. A. There appears to be no indication that it has spread to its maximum distribution extent on this continent.
Ainslie’s discovery of Microstegium vimineum means different things to different people. This presentation considers Japanese stilt-grass history in the United States, its distribution and biology These will be presented from the perspectives of plant biogeographers, land managers and invasive control experts, home owners and the public, and research scientists. The need for education is of paramount importance. The urgency of early detection programs and public awareness for areas where Microstegium vimineum is not currently known will be discussed. An example of how “lessons learned” from Japanese stilt grass can help with the potentially similar invasive Eastern Asian grass Oplismenus undulatifolius, the Wavy-leaf basket grass, will be presented.