• Open Access

Invasiveness potential of Miscanthus sinensis: implications for bioenergy production in the United States


L. D. Quinn, e-mail: ldquinn@illinois.edu


Miscanthus sinensis (Anderss.) is a perennial grass species that has been grown widely as an ornamental since the late 1800s and is now being considered for bioenergy production in the United States. With its ability to be grown from seed and tolerate cold climates, this species offers practical advantages over current cultivars of the higher-yielding hybrid species, M.×giganteus. Yet a large-scale release of M. sinensis for bioenergy production in colder northern regions could result in new invasions into natural areas. We show, with reference to historical records and data collected in six wild US populations of M. sinensis in 2009, that ornamental varieties of this species have a long history of localized escape in the Eastern United States, primarily within the Appalachian region. To prevent further escape and gene flow, we recommend the development of sterile or functionally sterile varieties of M. sinensis or the restriction of its usage as a donor of genetic material to new sterile cultivars of M. ×giganteus. Other appropriate precautions for new biomass varieties include experimental demonstration of low invasiveness in the target region ahead of commercial production, along with postintroduction stewardship programs.