Japanese silvergrass, also known as Chinese silvergrass, miscanthus, and susuki (in Japan), is native to Southeast Asia where it occurs along roadsides and disturbed sites throughout much of Japan, especially at higher elevations (3,000-4,000 ft.). It is popular and frequently planted in commercial and residential landscapes. Japanese silvergrass is found in scattered locations in most of the eastern U.S. and as far west as Missouri and Louisiana, and in California and Colorado. It is a clump-forming grass with short, inconspicuous rhizomes and is adaptable to a variety of soil types including light, well-drained, nutrient-poor soils not suitable for agriculture such as roadsides, powerline rights-of-way, railroads, and steep embankments. It prefers full sun. Mature plants have slender, upright or somewhat arching leaves up to 18 in. long, with silvery midribs, sharp tips and rough margins and feathery, fan-shaped, terminal flower panicles that are silvery to pink in color and up to 2 ft. long. Flowering occurs September through October. More than fifty ornamental forms of Miscanthus sinensis are sold in the U.S. nursery trade. Most forms set little or no seed due to self-incompatibility, meaning that pollen from other forms is needed in order to produce viable seed. The species or wild type of Miscanthus likely originated from ornamental plantings. Due to the large number of forms planted, the wild type now produces a significant amount of viable seed that is wind-dispersed. It resembles ravenna-grass and other tall showy exotic ornamental grasses. Good substitutes would include eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), little bluestem (Schyzachirium scopyrium) and other native grasses. Removing seedheads is one way to reduce the likelihood of spread to new areas.
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