There are three principal species of zoysiagrass used for turf: Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella, and Zoysia tenuifolia. These species are differentiated by texture, cold tolerance and aggressiveness.
Zoysia japonica, often called Korean or Japanese lawngrass, was introduced into the U.S. in 1895. Zoysia japonica is more cold tolerant than the other species, but is also the most coarse textured of the three species. Zoysia japonica is the only zoysiagrass species that can be established from seed.
Zoysia matrella was introduced into the U.S. in 1911 from Manilla. It is chiefly a tropical and subtropical grass, but can be grown as far north as Connecticut in the U.S. Zoysia matrella grows well in moderate shade and forms a thick mat in full sun. The leaf blades of Zoysia matrella are narrow, sharply pointed and wiry. In tropical climates the grass remains green year around. But, in cooler climates it turns brown after several hard frosts and remains brown until late spring. Zoysia matrella must be propagated from sprigs and is quite slow to become established.
Zoysia tenuifolia is the finest textured, least winter hardy of the zoysiagrasses. It has very fine, short, wiry leaf blades and forms a dense, fluffy turf. It is extremely slow to spread and is most often used as a ground cover.