Pest Alert – Invasive Grasses

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Plants from other areas of the world are starting to take over our western North Carolina native ecosystems. Some of these plants are grasses. One such grass, Miscanthus sinensis grass, is an Asian grass that was introduced as an ornamental grass. Unfortunately, the grass has escaped cultivation and has become invasive. The grass is commonly found growing in western North Carolina.

invasive miscanthus grass

Miscanthus grass is from Asia and has become invasive in WNC. It can be found growing in undisturbed sunny areas.

Invasive miscanthus grows on sunny roadsides, power right-of-ways, railroads, and embankments. The grass spreads by seed which is windblown. Miscanthus sinensis
is a bunch- or clump forming grass, with very short, inconspicuous rhizomes.

miscanthus on roadside

Pennisetum species are grasses native to Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America. Unfortunately, many of them have naturalized widely in North America. They are either annual or perennial grasses spreading by seed. Some are only one foot tall while others can produce stems up to 24 feet tall. Like miscanthus, pennisetum can be found growing on roadsides, fields and gardens.

Controlling invasive grasses is tough. Mowing open fields and roadsides regularly can prevent the grass from becoming established. Removing seed heads can prevent seed spreading. Clumps of the grasses can controlled with general herbicides such as glyphosate.

pennisetum grass

Pennisetum grass, from Europe and Asia, have naturalized in Western NC and can be found growing on roadsides, fields and gardens.

Chinese fountain grass Chinese fountain grass