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Invasive Species: Japanese Chaff Flower

Japanese Chaff Flower

(Achyranthes japonica)
*Not detected in Michigan*


Report this species: 

se the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) online reporting tool

- Or - download the MISIN smartphone app and report from your phone -


Japanese chaff flower flowers

Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Chaff flower leaves and stems

Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Japanese chaff flower brown stems in winter 

Photo courtesy of Chris Evans, University of Illinois,


  • Perennial herbaceous plant growing 3-6 feet high.
  • Simple, smooth-edged leaves with pointed tips grow opposite. 
  • Flower is a green, bottle brush-like spike with no petals.
  • Stem at the ground is red, even in seedlings.
  • Stems remain erect and turn brown to orange-brown in the fall and winter.

Habitat: Prefers partial sun and moist areas including floodplains and shorelines. Can also grow in shade, full sun and dry areas.

Native Range: East Asia.

U. S. Distribution: Mainly concentrated along the Big Sandy and Ohio rivers: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.

Local Concern: Japanese chaff flower outcompetes native species and forms large, dense stands in floodplains, forested wetlands, ditches, vacant land and other disturbed edge habitats.

Look-alikes: Commonly mistaken for white vervain and lopseed, which have toothed leaf edges, or pigweeds, which have alternate leaves.

Methods of introduction and spread: Seeds can be transported by floodwaters, rivers and streams, wildlife, equipment and soil transport. Seeds readily attach to fabrics and hair.  


Japanese Chaff Flower Invasive Species Alert - Printable PDF