Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Eleocharis palustris
common spikerush

Distribution: Widely distributed on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east across North America to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Wet places from sea level to moderate elevations in the mountains; tolerant of alkali.

Flowers: May-August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Herbaceous, rhizomatous perennial, the culms scattered or in clumps along the rhizome, slender to stout, 1-10 dm. tall.


Leaf sheaths red or black at base, green or red towards tip, not inflated or callose, membranous to papery, tips broadly obtuse to acute, tooth lacking.


Spikelet terminal and solitary, 5-23 mm. long, lanceolate in outline, brown or chestnut-colored; scales of the spikelet spirally arranged 2-4.5 mm. long, with 1 or 2 empty scales at the base of the spikelet, the lower one encircling the culm; perianth bristles usually 4, retrorsely barbed; stamens 2; styles bifid, thickened at the base.


Achenes lenticular, yellow to brown, 1.5-2.5 mm. long, including a tubercle 0.4-0.7 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Eleocharis palustris (L.) Roem. & Schult.
Publication: Syst. Veg. 2: 151. 1817. 1817.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Eleocharis smallii Britton
Scirpus palustris L.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Eleocharis palustris in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Eleocharis palustris checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Eleocharis palustris information.

E-Flora BC: Eleocharis palustris atlas page.

CalPhotos: Eleocharis palustris photos.

USDA Plants: Eleocharis palustris information.

33 photographs:
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