LA CROSSE, Wis. – The serendipitous discovery of an aggressive invasive grass never before documented in Wisconsin sparked a rapid response effort in July culminating with Department of Natural Resources staff and partners surveying the property and hand-pulling small patches of the plants and spraying larger patches with herbicide.

As a result, invasive species experts believe the invasive species, Japanese stilt grass, is contained on the Coulee Experimental State Forest in La Crosse County.

“We were very fortunate the Japanese stilt grass was spotted early by a person familiar with the plant and who knew how to report it,” said Kelly Kearns, DNR invasive plant specialist. “As a result, we were able to get out there and get on it. This was a textbook example of early detection and control, and why citizen reports of invasive species are so important.”

Kearns calls on users of the property to keep an eye out for this highly invasive grass. To identify possible Japanese silt grass, take a closeup photo of the plant, collect a specimen of the entire plant, and check the identification and resources tab on the DNR Japanese stilt grass web page to make sure it is the right species and not a look-alike.

Japanese stilt grass likely will only be found in shaded forests or forest edges, along roads, trails or streams. The key identification features are a silvery stripe of hairs down the middle of the leaf’s upper surface and wiry stems.

The plant can be reported through the Great Lakes Early Detection Network cell phone app or people can send an email with its location, population size and closeup photo to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Japanese stilt grass is an annual grass that produces seed in just one year, allowing it to gain a foothold in forests very quickly

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