Wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus hirtellus spp. undulatifolius) is an invasive grass that was first found in Maryland in 1997. This grass grows in dense monocultures in forest understories and spreads quickly through clonal growth and by dispersal of glue covered seeds that stick to fur, clothing and skin.

We are asking for the public's help in mapping the distribution and spread of this invasive species. You can get involved by downloading our smartphone app and reporting locations of this distinctive and potentially destructive species.

How to get involved:

  • Click on the download link to download the app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. Alternatively, you can record points on your handheld GPS (see below).

  • Register the app so we know a little about who our citizen scientists are and so that we can contact you if we need to follow up on any points you submit.

  • Get mapping! Let us know if you have wavyleaf basketgrass on your property or if you find it on your hike. The app has the ability to collect a single point or map a series of points along a trail.

  • Your data are automatically uploaded to our server at Towson University and will be submitted to EDDMapS, the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System run by the University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

How it works:

  • The app allows you to record both presence and absence points. Data on where the grass is growing is important for determining its distribution and predicting the areas where it is likely to grow best. Absence points are also very important. If we are positive the grass was absent at a location one year and it is found there the next year, we have valuable information on how fast the grass is spreading.

  • The app allows you to take one point or a series of points. To take single point, press the "New Sighting" button. Look around you and determine how much of the area you see that is available for plant growth (mentally delete areas like parking lots, trails or rivers) is coved with wavyleaf basketgrass. Then press the button for the range that incudes your estimate. If you don't see any wavyleaf (hurray!), hit the button for 0%. If you are able to estimate the extent of the area infested, fill this out as well but it is not required. You can also submit a photo with your point if you wish (this functionality is coming soon!).

  • To take a series of points, press the "Start Trip" button and choose how often you want to take a point. You phone will alert you at the correct time. When you are finished recording points, press "Stop Trip". You can also use the "New Sighting" button at any point in your trip to record extra points.

If you have a GPS:

  • Simply use the same estimation process as above and label your point with a unique identifier, a dash, and the end of the applicable cover range. The cover ranges are 0%, 1-10%, 10-25%, 25-50%, 50-75% and 75-100%. So if you estimate that 30% of the area you see that is available for plant growth is covered by wavyleaf, you would enter 1234-50. If there is no wavyleaf at the next location, label your next point 1235-0. Upload your points to your computer and email them to wavyleaf@towson.edu.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ):

  1. What sort of time commitment is required to participate in this project?

    • You can contribute as little or as much time as you wish. We've intended for people to use this app while hiking, so even recording points along your favorite trail is valuable data.

  2. How do I know if someone else has already mapped a particular trail?

    • In the future we'll have a map view where you can see the points everyone else has submitted. Mapping a trail multiple times can actually provide very important data: it allows us to determine if the grass has spread along the trail; it allows us to measure the variability in people's estimates of cover; and it gives us a better idea of which areas are more heavily used. Areas where several different volunteers have submitted points may be good candidates for interpretative signage.

  3. Do I need to submit a picture with every point?

    • No, we do not need a picture with every point. We would like you to submit a picture in any instance where you: 1) are unsure of your identification; 2) see any unusual coloration, growth or insect/herbivory damage; or 3) see the grass in flower or in seed for the first time in a season.

  4. What will you do with the data we collect?

    • We have preliminary data that suggest that wavyleaf basketgrass poses a serious threat to the diversity and function of forest ecosystems, but we need funding to carry out larger and longer-term studies. We also need funding to eradicate this species in areas where it has overtaken most native forest vegetation. A better understating of the distribution of this species and how fast it is spreading will help bring this species to the attention of lawmakers, policy writers and funding agencies.

How to identify wavyleaf basketgrass:

Wavyleaf basketgrass can be confused with a few other grass species but is easily identified using four features

  1. Wavy leaves - the leaf blades of wavyleaf basketgrass have undulating ripples.

  2. Fuzzy stems - the stems of wavyleaf basketgrass are covered with short, fuzzy hairs. Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), which looks somewhat similar to wavyleaf basketgrass, has smooth stems. Also, the leaves of Japanese stiltgrass are flat, not wavy.

  3. No silver mid-vein - Japanese stiltgrass has a vein running down the middle if its leaf that looks silvery or shiny in the right light.

  4. Non-clasping leaves - two other look-alikes, deer tongue grass (Panicum clandestinum) and hairy jointgrass (Arthraxon hispidus), also have fuzzy stems and somewhat wavy leaves, but the leaf bases of these grasses wrap around the stem. The leaf bases of wavyleaf basketgrass cup the stem but don't encircle it.

Wavyleaf basketgrass

Photo credit: Vanessa Beauchamp

Wavyleaf basketgrass
Japanese stiltgrass

Photo credit: Luke Flory

Japanese stiltgrass
Hairy jointgrass

Photo credit: Virginia Tech Weed ID Guide

Hairy jointgrass
Deer tongue grass

Photo credit: Virginia Tech Weed ID Guide

Deer tongue grass

Additional Feedback

Contact us by email at wavyleaf@towson.edu if you have any additional questions or feedback.