The best way to control or manage invasive species is to find them early and do something about them quickly before they can get established and spread. This strategy is known as IPM (Integrated Pest Management) in agriculture/horticulture and EDRR (Early Detection & Rapid Response) in ecology. Identification of a novel species is the first step because you cannot control what you do not know. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to gardens, landscapes and natural areas.
In the Mid Atlantic region of the eastern United States there is a new invader that is spreading rapidly, wavyleaf basket grass. It is now six years since I first wrote about this species. With the exception of the valiant work of a few people such as Imlay, Kyde, Bergmann, Swearingen, Marose, and a small group of concerned, volunteer weed warriors, we have done nothing, and the plant is spreading perhaps soon to a point of no control because the cost will become too great even as the ecosystem damage sky-rockets to a point of no return. We could have controlled this plant and even eradicated 16 years ago when it was first 'discovered' outside of Baltimore, and we could have done it for a few dollars and some hours if we had practiced the principles of EDRR. We did nothing and it is now in the mountains of western Virginia.
4. Invasive species: wavyleaf basketgrass - Oplismenus hirtellus subsp. undulatifolius Wednesday, April 01, 2009
7. Open Letter to Congress: Control of Asiatic Wavyleaf Basketgrass, Oplismenus hirtellus undulatifolius Friday, February 03, 2012
A review of the uncertainty surrounding accurate identification of Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius (Ard.) U. Scholz is in order. The genus Oplismenus is not economically important but has been known to western science since the early 19th century. As with many grasses, classification and categorization of the many species in the genus Oplismenus is difficult and confused. Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius was first described as Panicum undulatifolium by the Italian botanist, Pietro Arduino, in 1764. The great naturalist Palisot de Beauvois assigned P. undulatifolius to the genus Oplismenus (Palisot de Beauvois, 1812).
The most complete descriptions of the various members or taxa of the genus Oplismenus was written by Ursula Scholz in 1981 - in German - so bone up on your foreign language skills (Scholz, 1981). Because o the description difficulties inherent in Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius (Ard.) U. Scholz as a host of synonyms or "other names" which add to the confusion when attempting to research this species on the internet.
The Maryland and Virginia populations have been positively identified as Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius (Ard.) U. Scholz . An ornamental variegated pink, green and white form is sold under numerous, varied names such as O. hirtellus “Variegatus”, O. africanus 'Variegatus', O. variegatus, O. burmanii 'Variegatus', Panicum variegatum, “Ribbon grass,” or “basket grass". This ornamental variegated Oplismenus used in gardens and sold at nurseries is not Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius. It is a sterile variegated garden species has been propagated and distributed under numerous names since its introduction to the florist, garden and nursery trade in the mid 19th century (Long, 1874).
Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius (Ard.) U. Scholz is native to Europe and Asia. It is a shade tolerant, low-growing, perennial grass, with leaf blades that are flat, dark green, about 0.5” wide and 1.5-4” long, with rippling waves across the grass blades. The leaf sheaths and stems are noticeably hairy. O. hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius has spikelet's that form long sticky awns (Scholz, 1981; Peterson et al., 1999; Kyde & Marose, 2008; Westbrooks & Imlay, 2009).
Be very careful when planning a control effort because there are two native species: Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. setarius (Lam.) Mez ex Ekman and O. hirtellus subsp. fasciculatus U. Scholz. Also beware that wavyleaf basketgrass looks like Arthraxon hispidus (Thunb.) Makino and Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus. Microstegium vimineum is the ever present rampant invasive also known as Japanese stilt grass.
I have just finished a datasheet on wavyleaf basket grass, Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius (Ard.) U. Scholz, for CABI's Invasive Species Compendium
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25 USDA-APHIS PPQ PERAL 2012 Weed Risk Assessment for Oplismenus hirtellus (L.) P. Beauv. subsp. undulatifolius (Ard.) U. Scholz (Poaceae) – Wavyleaf basketgrass - ver 2, June 14, 2012.
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