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Weed Identification

Chinese silvergrass



Scientific Name

Miscanthus sinensis

Other Common Names:

zebra grass

Synonyms (former Scientific Names):

Miscanthus sinensis var. purpurascens
Miscanthus sinensis var. gracillimus
Miscanthus sinensis Andersson ssp. Condensatus
Miscanthus sinensis var. variegatus
Miscanthus sinensis var. zebrinus


It is a warm season grass that forms a dense clump of upward-arching stems and leaves which gives it a round, fountain-like appearance.


Leaves are 1 inch wide and up to 3 ft long. Leaves are sparsely pubescent on both sides. Leaf tips are sharp and margins are rough. Fringed membranous ligule is 1 to 2mm long.

Identifying Characteristics

It is a densely-bunched grass that grows upright with silvery mid-veins on the leaves. It can grow up to 12 feet tall. It is highly flammable and known for being a fire hazard. Leaves often turn attractive shades of yellow to orange by mid-fall before turning beige-tan going into winter.

Flower Seed Head

Flowering time is mid-summer into early autumn. Terminal inflorescence are 4 to 14 in long. Inflorescence open, with large fan-shaped branches. Extending from the spikelet is a needle-like awn that is surrounded by many silky hairs. The color gradually changes from pale pink to reddish in color then turns tan in the fall through winter. The structures takes on a silvery color and fluffy appearance for winter

Seed Fruit

The seeds are rough with twisted bristle tip from 3 to 4mm long.

Where Found

Chinese silvergrass prefers well drained soils and full sun. It invades roadsides, field edges, and disturbed sites. Miscanthus can become invasive by escaping established ornamental plantings into disturbed areas. Native to Asia, it was primarily introduced into the United States as an ornamental plant. However, it now has become an invasive species. It can be found throughout the eastern U.S., Colorado, and California.

Leaf Hair on Upper Surface

hairs from base to tip

Leaf Arrangement

rolled in bud

Mature Leaf Width

more than 15 mm





Life Cycle



not present



Ligule Length

1-2 mm

Plant Type