Identifying Grass Seedlings

Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) also called Mary’s-grass

Summer annual grasses


An invasive annual grass that can root at the node and prefers to grow in shady locations. This grass can reach as much as 3½ feet in height and has asymmetrical leaves that have an off-center, shiny midrib. Leaves are 1–3 inches long, 5–8 mm wide, are without auricles, and have a short (0.5 mm) hairlike ligule that is barely discernable.

Mature Japanese stiltgrassMature Japanese stiltgrass.

Collar region Asymmetrical leavesCollar region: short, hairy ligule.
Right, Japanese stiltgrass: asymmetrical leaves with off-center midribs.


Occurs as a weed of woods, nature trails, pastures, lawns, along roadsides and any area with a dense cover of shade.


Occurs throughout the eastern United States but currently rare in Missouri.

Similar species

The distinctive midrib that does not separate the leaf exactly in half as in other grasses helps to differentiate Japanese stiltgrass from all other species.