Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Miscanthus sinensis



Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia)


  • Last modified
  • 19 March 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Miscanthus sinensis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • eulalia
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • M. sinensis has become a popular perennial ornamental grass in warm, temperate areas since its introduction at the turn of the twentieth century from Japan and China. In Japan it is maintained in semi-natural grasslands by burning where it...

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Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2007.
CaptionMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2007.
Copyright©Leslie J. Mehrhoff/niversity of Connecticut/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2007.
HabitMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2007.©Leslie J. Mehrhoff/niversity of Connecticut/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2004.
TitleFoliage and habit
CaptionMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2004.
Copyright©Leslie J. Mehrhoff/niversity of Connecticut/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2004.
Foliage and habitMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); foliage and habit. USA, 2004.©Leslie J. Mehrhoff/niversity of Connecticut/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); fruiting habit. USA, 2003.
TitleFruiting habit
CaptionMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); fruiting habit. USA, 2003.
Copyright©Leslie J. Mehrhoff/niversity of Connecticut/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); fruiting habit. USA, 2003.
Fruiting habitMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); fruiting habit. USA, 2003.©Leslie J. Mehrhoff/niversity of Connecticut/ - CC BY 3.0 US
Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); seeds. USA.
CaptionMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); seeds. USA.
Copyright©Steve Hurst/USDA NRCS PLANTS Database/ - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Miscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); seeds. USA.
SeedsMiscanthus sinensis (eulalia, Chinese silvergrass); seeds. USA.©Steve Hurst/USDA NRCS PLANTS Database/ - CC BY-NC 3.0 US


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Miscanthus sinensis Andersson (1855)

Preferred Common Name

  • eulalia

Other Scientific Names

  • Erianthus japonicus (Trin.).P. Beauv. (1812)
  • Eulalia japonica Trin. (1832)
  • Miscanthus condensatus Hack.
  • Miscanthus flavidus Honda
  • Miscanthus japonicas (Trin.) Andersson (1856)
  • Miscanthus kanehirae Honda
  • Miscanthus purpurescens Andersson
  • Miscanthus sinensis var. gracillumus Hitche. (1901)
  • Miscanthus sinensis var. variegatus Beal (1896)
  • Miscanthus sinensis var. zebrinus Beal (1896)
  • Miscanthus transmorrisonensis Hayata
  • Ripidium japonicum (Trin.) Trin. (1820)
  • Saccharum japopnicum Thunb. (1794)
  • Xiphagrostis japonicas (Trin.) Coville (1905)

International Common Names

  • English: Chinese fairygrass; Chinese silver grass; eulaliagrass; Japanese pampas grass; Japanese silver grass; maiden grass; pampas grass; plume grass; wild sugar cane; zebra grass
  • French: eulalie; miscanthus de Chine

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: kinesisk elefantgraes
  • Germany: Chinaschilf; Chinesisches Stielbluetengras; Gemeines Chinaschilf
  • Japan: obana
  • Netherlands: prachtriet

EPPO code

  • MISSI (Miscanthus sinensis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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M. sinensis has become a popular perennial ornamental grass in warm, temperate areas since its introduction at the turn of the twentieth century from Japan and China. In Japan it is maintained in semi-natural grasslands by burning where it is used for grazing cattle and is also cut for hay. Many cultivars have been developed and are readily available from nurseries. As a garden escape it has become naturalised from rhizome fragments in discarded garden waste and subsequent seeding in the Mid-Atlantic States and New England, USA, and New South Wales, Australia. Impacts are localised along roadsides and other disturbed areas in the USA. It is only listed as a noxious weed in Connecticut but even here its trade is not prevented. Conservation groups list it as a bush invader of the Blue Mountains in Australia where it is not subject to regulation.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Miscanthus
  •                                 Species: Miscanthus sinensis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Since Andersson first described Miscanthus in 1855 more than 80 synonyms have been applied to the genus. Fourteen species are now recognised (Hodkinson et al., 1997) but interspecific hybridisation is common giving rise to many sterile hybrids. Intergeneric hybridisation also occurs, especially with Sacharum, a close relative. The only tangible difference between these genera is the disposition of spikelets on the floral panicle and the fragility of the rachis (Scally et al., 2001). More than 15 names have been published for M. sinensis, largely at the botanical variety or form level. This synonymy was catalogued most recently by Filgueiras (2003). The attempts to provide sub-species classification reflects that M. sinensis is a widespread species with a broad range of variation.

The Flora of China (Shou-Liang and Renvoize, 2006) concludes that although the variants may be locally distinct, there are too many intermediates to allow a more detailed taxonomy to be followed. The flora lists the main variants as Miscanthus condensatus from Japan (including Ryukyu Islands), especially on coasts; M. purpurascens found throughout the range of M. sinensis and M. transmorrisonensis in Taiwan. The Flora of Taiwan (FOT, 2008) however maintains M. sinensis var condensatus and M. sinensis var sinensis as distinct. Although M. transmorrisonensis is morphologically similar to M. sinensis recent analysis has provided evidence that it has diverged sufficiently at the molecular level to merit species recognition (Hodkinson et al., 2002). This study also indicated that the species status of M. sinensis var condensatus and M. floribundus is questionable as these are similar to M. sinensis at the molecular level. M. floribundus is primarily Pacific in distribution, overlapping with M. sinensis in a limited area. It has smaller spikelets and a range of intermediates occur that are difficult to distinguish.

M. sinensis was introduced to gardens in Europe, North America and Australia more than a century ago and it is now perhaps the most widely grown ornamental grass in temperate areas. Many named cultivars have been developed with more than 50 ornamental forms now available in USA (Meyer, 2003). An Internet search will also indicate an abundance of nurseries in Europe that each offers 15 to 20 cultivars. These may or may not be labelled as Miscanthus. Widely planted varieties include maiden grass (M. sinensis cv. 'Gracillimus'), porcupine grass (cv. 'Strictus') sometimes listed as M. sinensis var. strictus, zebra grass (cv. 'Zebrinus'), Cultivar 'Variegatus', flame grass (cv. 'Purpurescens') and silver feather grass (cv. 'Silberfeder'). Cv. morning light, cultivated for over a century in Japan, is now one of the most popular.

In addition to ornamental forms the name ‘Miscanthus’ is now commonly used to refer to the biomass crop plant Miscanthus x giganteus (Jones and Walsh, 2001). This is a pollen sterile triploid hybrid (n = 57) of uncertain origin, probably M. sinensis (diploid) x M. sacchariflorus (tetrapoloid). This was introduced into Denmark in 1935 from Yokohama, Japan.


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Plants are reed or cane like, clump forming and shortly rhizomatous. Flowering culms grow from 0.3 to 2 m (exceptionally 4 m) tall, 3–10 mm in diameter, and are solid, unbranched, with glabrous or puberulous nodes. Leaf sheaths glabrous or pilose and the leaf blades linear, flat, 18–75 × 0.3–2(–4) cm, glabrous, glaucous or pilose with a prominent mid-rib. Leaf margins are sharp and slightly serrated. The membranous-fringed ligule is 0.5 to 4 mm long. Inflorescence is an open panicle with large fan shaped branches that are persistent through the winter, 10 to 40 cm in length.Spikelets are in pairs, 4–6.5 mm, long pilose or glabrous, awned and surrounded by silky hairs 5–8 mm long, exceeding the spikelet. Glumes are subequal, membranous, 4–6.5 mm, 5-veined, back glabrous or pilose, puberulous at the apex and along upper margins. The upper lemma similar to lower, 2.5–3.5 mm with a genticulate awn, 4–12 mm. The upper palea is 1–2 mm. There are 3 anthers, about 2.5 mm. Caryopsis ellipsoid, about 2 mm. (See Shou-Liang Cheng and Renvoize (2006) for a detailed description).

Plant Type

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Grass / sedge
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated


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The genus Miscanthus has a wide distribution extending from S.E. Asia through China, Japan and into Polynesia with a few species occurring in Africa. M. sinensis is native to China, Japan, Taiwan, the Pacific coast of Maritime Province of the Russian Federation and the Korean peninsula. According to Morita (1997) it is found throughout Japan. It is particularly common in Honshu where the plants are found along roadsides and on wasteland (Meyer, 2003). Additionally, Japan has high elevation semi-natural Miscanthus grasslands, from 450-1500 m above seal level, that are maintained by periodic burning.

M. sinensis has been a popular garden ornamental for more than a century and is now found in gardens in many warm temperate areas of the world. Naturalized populations have established from garden escapes in North America, Latin America, New South Wales in Australia and sporadically in Western Europe with specimens collected from southern England, northern France and Denmark (Tropicos, 2008). In USA it is known outside of cultivation from approximately 30°N in Louisiana to 43°N in New York State. It is found in New England and the Mid-Atlantic States, particularly Kentucky, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia but it is also known to have naturalized in parts of California (Calflora, 2008; USDA-NRCS, 2008). In western North Carolina M. sinensis has become naturalized on roadsides and on mountain slopes in much of Buncumbe, Madison, and Henderson Counties and it is also reported from Chester County Pennsylvania, and disturbed areas in Washington DC (Meyer, 2003). In New South Wales the species has invaded areas of the Blue Mountains to the West of Sydney (Harley, 2007).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 12 May 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


-HebeiPresent, Few occurrencesNative
Hong KongPresentNative
IndonesiaPresentNativeNo distribution information with this record
-HonshuPresent, WidespreadNative
-ShikokuPresent, WidespreadNative
North KoreaPresentNative
PhilippinesPresentNativeNo distribution information with this record
South KoreaPresentNative


DenmarkPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
FrancePresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedW. of Paris
-Russian Far EastPresent, Few occurrencesNativePrimorye, Maritime Province
SwedenPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedSkane Province
United KingdomPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedNear Camberly, Surrey

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedNo further distribution information
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced
United StatesPresent
-CaliforniaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveEl dorado, Riverside and San Mateo counties
-ColoradoPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn two counties
-ConnecticutPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn three counties
-DelawarePresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn one county
-District of ColumbiaPresent
-FloridaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn one county
-GeorgiaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn five counties
-IllinoisPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn six counties. Was in Cass co. by 1959
-KentuckyPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn 13 counties
-LouisianaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn five counties
-MarylandPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn one county
-MassachusettsPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn one county
-MissouriPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn five counties
-New JerseyPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn 11 counties
-New MexicoPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-New YorkPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn two counties
-North CarolinaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveIn 32 counties
-OhioPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn four counties
-PennsylvaniaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn 14 counties
-Rhode IslandPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn one county
-South CarolinaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasivein five counties
-TennesseePresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasiveIn Servier County
-VirginiaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveIn 34 counties
-West VirginiaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedInvasiveIn 10 counties


-New South WalesPresent, LocalizedIntroducedBlue Mountains. West of Sydney. Collected from 1931 at Mt. Wilson
-Western AustraliaPresent, LocalizedIntroducedCollected in 1985 at Bedfordale
New ZealandPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
VanuatuPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedPresent by 1928

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedBuenos Aries in 2003
BrazilPresentIntroducedNo further distribution information

History of Introduction and Spread

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All cases of introduction and spread of M. sinensis have been through planting as an ornamental followed by the species becoming naturalized as a garden escape. Very little has been documented about this process. In Australia the species was cultivated in the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden by 1899 with specimens collected in the New South Wales Table Lands in 1931 (GBIF, 2008). It is now listed as a bush invader in the Blue Mountains (Harley, 2007).

Meyer (2003) reported that Hitchcock in 1917 noted that M. sinensis was sometimes found as a garden escape in USA. By 1950 there was a report that the species was showing “a tendency to spread by seed” (Chase, 1950).Specimens were collected in USA from the early 1900s in Washington D.C., 1941 in Virginia, the 1950s in Colorado and Maryland and early 1960s in Missouri and N. Carolina (GBIF, 2008).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
New South Wales Japan 1890s Yes No GBIF (2008) In Sysney Botanic Garden in 1899
USA Japan 1890s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes No Beal (1896) Little documentation

Risk of Introduction

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As a popular ornamental species M. sinensis has become widely available through the horticultural trade since being introduced to cultivation during the late 1800s. In a suitable habitat and climate it can be spread accidentally beyond gardens as rhizomes discarded in garden waste or contaminated soil. Pieces of rhizome 4 cm long can be used to propagate the species (Nielsen, 1987) and smaller fragments may well give rise to feral stands. However, Meyer (2003) reports that groups of M. sinensis plants grown together may set significant amounts of seed that is wind dispersed and considers this to be the primary method of spread of the species in the USA. While there is some confusion over the extent to which different cultivars produce seed (Morisawa, 1999), observations of a number planted in Ireland in 1996 suggest that viable seed production is common (Scally et al., 2001).

Despite its spread out of cultivation, M. sinensis is only listed by Connecticut as a noxious weed, in the category 'potentially invasive, not banned'. Elsewhere state and area invasive species councils list the species at levels ranging from 'of concern' in Maryland, on a 'watch list' in Ohio to 'occasionally invasive' in Virginia and 'severe threat' in Kentucky. It is not listed under the New South Wales Noxious Weed Act although further spread is of concern to conservation organizations in the Blue Mountains (Harley, 2007). Although M. sinensis is not a declared species, the state Department of Primary Industries has prepared a control calendar for it (NSW-DPI, 2008).


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The species will grow on a variety of sites but prefers moist, well-drained soil to reach its maximum growth potential (Morisawa, 1999; Meyer, 2003; SE-EPPC, 2008). It is intolerant of shade although it will persist in sparsely forested areas and small openings. In many natural areas, this grass is prevalent on abandoned home sites where it was used as an ornamental. It has been documented invading light textured soils that are low in nutrients such as roadsides, along railways, power-lines, shores of reservoirs, and in forests and old fields following fires. The plant is extremely flammable and upon catching fire, burning fragments cause difficulty in fire control. The species tolerates cold climates, with winter cold as low as -26°C, and in the USA will survive as far south as the Florida panhandle but does not grow so well in such humid climates (Morisawa, 1999).


Habitat List

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Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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M. sinensis is a diploid species (2n = 2x = 38) (Jorgensen and Muhs, 2001). Current interest in the breeding for biomass production within the genus has led to a number of studies of genetic variation. These have shown a high level of variation at the molecular level within M. sinensis (Hodkinson et al., 2002).

Reproductive Biology

The species propagates by both rhizomes and seed. Large build-up of seeds in seed banks can also lead to further establishment of M. sinensis (Meyer, 2003). Although Hayashi and Numata (1971) found that about half of the seeds produced in one year were still viable the following summer they concluded that the Miscanthus community was more dependent on vegetative rather than seed regeneration. While Meyer and Tchida (1999) found viable seed set by many ornamental cultivars of M. sinensis, most variegated forms set less than 18% viable seed.

A high level of self-incompatibility has been reported from Russia and Japan (Hirayoshi et al., 1955; Nechiporenko et al., 1997). Matumura and Yukimura (1975) found no dormancy in M. sinensis and a wide variation in seed set over several years.

Physiology and Phenology

M. sinensis can withstand harsh winters (Meyer, 2003). In the warmer climate of New South Wales seeds germinate in late winter to early spring (August to October) and established plants flower in summer (December to February) and shed seed in autumn (February to June) (NSW-DPI, 2008).

Environmental Requirements

Once established, M. sinensis can tolerate a variety of poor conditions, including soils of various pH, compacted soils, nutrient poor soils, heat, and drought (ISSG, 2008). The plant doesn't survive in soil with a high salt content (Gilman, 1999).It is however tolerant of heavy metals (Hsu and Chou, 1992) and aluminium in the soil (Ezaki et al., 2008).


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Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
41 33

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 12 18
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 22 32
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -2 12


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall10032093mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agrostaleyrodes arcanus Plants|Leaves Ko et al. (2001)
Barley yellow dwarf viruses
Parnara guttatus
Pelopidas mathias
Sesamia inferens
Stagonospora Plants|Leaves Takeuchi et al. (2002)
Stagonospora sacchari

Notes on Natural Enemies

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There are few reports on natural enemies of M. sinensis in the literature. Indeed most information sources about growing the species as an ornamental emphasize that it remains relatively free of pests and diseases.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Seeds of M. sinensis are adapted for wind dispersal, aided by the ring of hairs below the spikelet. Seed may also be carried in streams where plants grow along the banks of watercourses or be carried in soil on vehicle types (Harley, 2007).

Intentional Introduction

The species has been introduced to many temperate areas of the world as a garden ornamental (e.g. Meyer, 2003). A diversity of cultivars is readily available from the nursery trade.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
DisturbanceAlong road verges in USA Yes Meyer (2003)
Escape from confinement or garden escapeVarious States in USA; NSW Australia Yes Harley (2007); Meyer (2003)
Garden waste disposalVarious States in USA; NSW Australia Yes Harley (2007)
Internet salesSpecies available via nurseries in North America and Australia Yes
Nursery tradeSpecies available via nurseries in North America and Australia Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Machinery and equipmentOn car tyres in NSW Yes Harley (2007)
WindSeed wind dispersal in USA Yes Meyer (2003)

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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While Morita (1997) lists the species as an arable weed in Japan it is not generally known as a weed of crops but as a species invading disturbed sites. No reports have therefore been made of its economic impact.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

M. sinensis is a high biomass producer and as such can increase the risk of fire in areas that it has invaded. In Japan semi-natural grasslands dominated by the species are maintained by regular burning and where this practice ceases it tends to decline to be replaced by other species (Kamada, 1994). There do not appear to have been any specific studies of the impact of M. sinensis on invaded habitats. In the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia the species creates dense thickets and forms extensive infestations that prevent the growth and germination of other plants. It rapidly colonises disturbed or open areas, and can invade large areas of bushland after fire, outcompeting all native species (Harley, 2007).

Impact on Biodiversity

The literature does not report on impacts of M. sinensis on biodiversity, although there is concern for areas invaded in USA and New South Wales, Australia. There does not appear to have been any specific research on this topic.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Spiraea virginiana (Virginia spiraea)No DetailsGeorgia; Kentucky; North Carolina; Ohio; Tennessee; Virginia; West VirginiaCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service (1992)

Social Impact

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M. sinensis is one of a number of invasive species of concern in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia (Harley, 2007) This is an area of considerable importance to the tourist industry in New South Wales but as yet there are no reports of loss of amenity or adverse impact on the landscape value of the area.

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition (unspecified)
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses List

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  • Ornamental


  • Miscellaneous fuels


  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Vegetable


  • Dye/tanning

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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In the USA both Miscanthus sinensis and M. sacchariflorus are considered to be weedy, invading natural vegetation or disturbed areas (Meyer, 2003). The latter is said to have more aggressive rhizomes, no awns on the spikelets, and the hairs surrounding the spikelet are twice as long as the spikelet - in M. sinensis they are equal in length to the spikelet. M. sacchariflorus always has green foliage while that of M. sinensis can be of many colours and variegated patterns. M. sacchariflorus is reported to be invasive in Mid-Western USA, for example, in Iowa and Minnesota (Meyer, 2003).

Andropogon gerardii (big blue stem) could also be confused with M. sinensis in North America due its large size. One distinguishing feature is that big blue stem has a three-pronged flower spike that resembles a turkey’s foot. Sugarcane plumegrass (Saccharumgiganteum) resembles M. sinensis due to its large plume and arching leaves. Plume grass can be differentiated by its longer flower stalks (up to 4 m) and shorter leaves (to 50 cm).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


Preventing further introductions of M. sinensis beyond gardens and parks is being increasingly emphasized. It is suggested that the species is not planted in gardens in New South Wales (Harley, 2007) and a number of nurseries in North America and horticultural industry information includes a 'health warning' to avoid planting adjacent to sensitive natural landscapes. There is increasing interest in educating horticulture industry professionals about invasive plants and in a survey of attitudes in Minnesota, Peters et al. (2006) found that only 38% of Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association members thought that M. sinensis could be invasive.

A number of US state invasive plant committees list the species as a potential problem but it has only been given noxious weed status in Connecticut, although sales are still allowed. 


Physical/mechanical control

Individual self-seeded plants can be removed by hand digging of the entire root system where these are found in nearby gardens to ornamental plantings. Removal before flowering or at least removal of flowers before seed fall is practical on a small scale. However, physical removal is likely to leave rhizome fragments in the soil, particularly if discing, cultivating or other mechanized methods are used (Morisawa, 1999). Areas treated in this way will need to be monitored and follow up treatments applied the following year.

Burning is a traditional method for maintaining M. sinensis grassland and in the USA Meyer (2003) warns that burning, especially in late autumn or winter, will increase plant vigour, growth and seed set. Burning should only be used in conjunction with a follow-up herbicide application. In Australia it is recommended to bag seed heads of naturalized stands prior to seed set (NSW-DPI, 2008) although this would not be practical on a large scale.

Movement control

Despite concerns about the invasive potential of M. sinensis there are no regulations in place to control movement or sale.

Chemical control

Meyer (2003) recommends the application of glyphosate in mid-spring to early summer to re-growth of plants that had been cut back or burnt in late winter to early spring. In situations where it is not practical to remove the previous season growth it is better to allow more foliage to develop and spray in summer. Treated stands should be monitored and any re-growth sprayed in the autumn or the following spring. Applications of glyphosate are also recommended in New South Wales (NSW-DPI, 2008).

Control by utilization

Although the productivity of M. sinensis can be reduced by defoliation the species can withstand grazing and cutting. Both are used for livestock production in Japan where M. sinensis grassland tolerated being cut up to five times in 5 months (Hayashi, 1994). However, utilization will prevent seed production. Control can be achieved if the plants are mown or grazed close to the ground (Nogami et al., 1993). Repeated mowing during the growing season is an effective method of control (Meyer, 2003).


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Barkworth ME, Capels KM, Long S, Piep MB, eds, 2003. Flora of North America. Volume 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 783 pp.

Beal WJ, 1896. Grasses of North America. New York, USA: Holt and Co.

Calflora, 2008. Information on wild California plants for conservation, education, and appreciation. Berkeley, California, USA.

Chase A, 1950. Manual of grasses of the United States. Washington DC, USA: US Government Printing Office.

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

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Hayashi I, 1994. Experimental community ecology in Miscanthus sinensis grassland - change of species composition according to mowing frequency. Japanese Journal of Ecology, 44(2):161-170.

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Distribution References

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GBIF, 2008. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. In: Global Biodiversity Information Facility, GBIF.

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Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435.

Shou-Liang Cheng, Renvoize S A, 2006. Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. In: Flora of China, Vol. 22. China & USA, USA: Science Press & Missouri Botanical Gardens Press. 582.

Tropicos, 2008. Botanical nomenclature website of Missouri Botanical Garden. In: Botanical nomenclature website of Missouri Botanical Garden, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.

USA, Calflora, 2008. Information on wild California plants for conservation, education, and appreciation. In: Information on wild California plants for conservation, education, and appreciation, Berkeley, California, USA:

USDA-NRCS, 2008. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database, Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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16/07/08 Original text by:

Charlie Riches, Consultant, UK

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