In the past, people introduced invasive plants on purpose for their appearance or help with something like erosion control, not realizing how damaging they can be. Knowing what we do now, efforts to prevent introduction of invasive plants have been put into place. Unfortunately though, not all invasive plants can be stopped and in 1996 a new one, wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius), was spotted in Maryland.
Wavyleaf basketgrass is native to Southeast Asia though there are two related grasses native to this area. The invasive basketgrass was first spotted and reported in Maryland in Patapsco Valley State Park and confirmed by US and international experts. Knowing how damaging invasive plants can be, there are many efforts to stop the spread of this plant. Despite that, in 2008 the grass was reported in Virginia. Currently, Maryland and Virginia are the only know locations in North America where wavyleaf basketgrass is present.
Why it’s a problem:
Wavyleaf basketgrass is a highly prolific plant that quickly spreads, crowding out native trees and herbaceous plants. The seeds of wavyleaf basketgrass are sticky and so can be spread easily on the clothes of people or, more likely, on the fur of an animal like a deer or a dog as you can see in the image to the left. When this grass crowds out native trees and plants, it leads to a lack of food and appropriate habitat for animals.
How to identify it:
The common name for wavyleaf basketgrass gives us a couple of clues to identifying this invasive plant. The leaves of this invasive grass have a wavy pattern to them as you can see in the image to the right. The waves in the leaves are patterned across the width of the plant, almost like water ripples moving outward from the stem. Other identifying features include the tip of the leaf ending in a sharp point, the stem has a fuzzy or hairy feel to it and the grasses can grow up to about 1foot tall. Sometimes wavyleaf basketgrass is mistaken for Japanese stiltgrass, another invasive plant. The primary difference between the two is the ripples on the basketgrass which is not present on the stiltgrass. In addition to that, stiltgrass has a silver stripe down the center of the leaf that is not present on the basketgrass.
How to stop it:
Hand pulling and spraying with herbicide are the most effective techniques. If you are hand pulling, the ideal time to do so is before the grass goes into seed because the seed has a sticky coating that easily attaches to clothes and shoes for dispersal. The seed goes into seed in the late fall and dies back in the winter. This leaves the spring, summer and early fall as the ideal times for removal by hand. Use of herbicide follows the same timeline, though it is less effective in the spring as not all of the plants have sprouted their leaves.
To help protect the native biodiversity from this grass, join the Carroll County Weed Warriors for training and to start removing invasive plants from public land in Carroll County. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Even if you are unable to physically remove this invasive plant, identification of it is still important. If you see wavyleaf basketgrass, take care to avoid walking in it as the seeds will stick to you and can be dropped in a new location; spreading the invasive. You can also report a sighting to Kerrie L. Kyde at email@example.com.
Information for this article came from: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/WLBG/index.asp