Maryland's Invasive and Exotic Species

​Wavyleaf Basketgrass
A New Forest Invader in Maryland

Wavyleaf Basketgrass photo by Kerrie Kyde


Wavyleaf Basket Grass covering forest floor, photo by Kerrie KydeThis Asian grass was first discovered growing in small patches in Patapsco Valley State Park in the 1990s. Scientists don’t know how it arrived here, but within a decade, it had spread to cover thousands of acres on public and private land in both Maryland and Virginia, the only two states where it has been documented. Ecologists believe that wavyleaf basketgrass could become even more widespread and damaging than Japanese stiltgrass, with which it shares habitats. DNR and its partners are working to reduce this spread by controlling the invader in newly discovered locations. You can help by reporting any place you see it using the Mid-Atlantic Early Detection Network (MAEDN) mobile app.

What Does It Look Like? 

Left to Right: Japanese stiltgrass, wavyleaf basketgrass, small carpetgrass (or hairy joint grass)

Below are details about wavyleaf basketgrass and some similar plants it is often confused with.

Wavyleaf basketgrass

Wavyleave basketgrass leaves, photo by Kerry KydeLeaves

Up to 4" long, dark bluish-green, with distinct ripples like unfolded pleats across width of the blade and long tapering tip; leaf base touches the stem, but does not clasp it, sheaths of leaves fuzzy


​Plants perennial; Overall plant height usually under 18"; branching from base with long, trailing stems (stolons) that root at nodes. Noticeably hairy with white hairs 1/8" long

WLBG_Flowers-Seeds.jpgFlowers and Seeds

Bloom period begins in mid-July and fruiting continues well into November. Flowers occur at the ends of branches, about 4" branched panicles; feathery white stigmas (pollen-receiving organs) clearly visible; seeds occur in 3-5 pairs of spikelets; each armed with a 1/2" awn or bristle that becomes sticky in the fall, facilitating long-distance dispersal.


Japanese stiltgrass


 "2-3" long; bright, spring green bluntly narrowed at both ends, without hairs along the edges; line of silvery hairs down the midrib that appears like a white stripe; midrib not in exact center of leaf blade but off to one side


Plants annual; can grow to 3' tall, but often bend to the ground and root at nodes; stems smooth, hairs when present only at the tops of the leaf sheaths

Stiltgrass_Flowers-Seeds.jpgFlowers and Seeds

Bloom period begins in late August; fruiting continues into early October; small branched clusters of seeds at the ends of upright or reclining stems.

Small carpetgrass

Carpet Grass leaves, photo by Kerrie KydeLeaves

Leaf blade up to about 2" long; tapering to a blunt point; bright yellow-green; hairy along edges and with edges ruffled or wavy but no pleats across the face of the blade; leaves clasp the stem


Annuals up to 2' but generally under 1' tall, branched, often bending over and rooting at the nodes, sparsely hairy

Carpet Grass flowers and seeds, photo by Kerrie KydeFlowers and Seeds

Open broomlike cluster of seeds closely spaced along "fingers."


Deer Tongue

Deer tongue leaves, photo by Kerrie KydeLeaves

May be 6 or more inches long, dark green, sheaths noticeably hairy, but leaf blades smooth, 0.5" to 1.5" wide; leaf sheaths constricted at top and leaf blades appear to clasp the stem


Substantial perennial plant up to 4' tall, with thick underground stems (rhizomes)

Deer Tongue Flowers and Seeds, photo by Tom Potterfield Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Flowers and Seeds

Delicate, airy, open-branched panicles at the ends of the stems, giving the appearance of miniature Christmas trees in overall shape .


Wavyleaf basketgrass and Japanese stiltgrass, photo by John Snitzer 

Wavyleaf basketgrass and Japanese stiltgrass often grow together in the same moist mixed hardwood forests. They can be told apart easily if you look closely. 

How Can You Help?

  1. Learn to recognize this grass and help other people learn it.
  2. Remove it from your property. It has weak roots and can easily be pulled out by hand, or it can be treated with an appropriate herbicide.
  3. DO NOT walk through patches of the grass during the fall, when the awns are sticky and you can carry the seed with you by mistake and spread the grass. Your dog can pick up the seeds too.
  4. Report infestations to the national mapping project through the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System (EDDMapS) online or the mobile application MAEDN.


Japanese stiltgrass Flowers & Seeds, Photo by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,

Deer tongue Flowers and Seeds, photo by Tom Potterfield Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

All other photos courtesy of Kerrie Kyde