Damaging invasive plant found in La Crosse County

Infestation between West Salem and Bangor controlled, DNR says
Japanese Stiltgrass
Stiltgrass infestations spread rapidly, and the seed can remain viable in the soil for up to five years. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — A University of Minnesota botanist has discovered one of the most damaging invasive plant species in the country in La Crosse County.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday that Amanda Weise was volunteering for the department’s Rare Plant Monitoring Program on July 12 when she spotted Japanese stiltgrass in the Coulee Experimental State Forest between West Salem and Bangor.

The DNR sent staff to survey the surrounding area and sprayed patches of the grass, which never had been found in Wisconsin. The department believes the grass has been contained.

The grass had never been found in Wisconsin, but it is spreading in every state east and south of Wisconsin except for Maine. The plant probably traveled to La Crosse County on the shoes or gear of a hunter or hiker who visited an infested area in another state, DNR officials said.

Japanese stiltgrass, also called Nepalese browntop, is an aggressive invader of forest lands that can cripple the diversity of native species, reduce wildlife habitat and disrupt important ecosystem functions, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Stiltgrass is considered one of the most damaging invasive plant species in the United States, the USDA says. Infestations spread rapidly, and the seed can remain viable in the soil for up to five years.

Correct identification is necessary before beginning any management activities.