Page authors: David Giblin, Don Knoke
Schoenoplectus acutus
American bulrush, common tule

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east throughout all of North America except southeastern U.S.

Habitat: Pond and lake margins, wetland and riparian areas.

Flowers: May-July

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Wind


Stout, herbaceous perennials from rhizomes, the culms 1-3 m. tall, firm, terete, often over 1 cm. thick toward the base.


Leaves few, toward the base of the culm, with well-developed sheath and short blade.


Inflorescence umbel-like, with spikelets in small, sessile clusters on the stiff, ascending branches of the inflorescence; spikelets dull gray-brown, 8-15 mm. long; principle involucral bract solitary, 2-10 cm. long, erect, an extension of the culm, green; lesser bracts small, chaffy and brownish; scales subtending the flowers scarious, 3.5-4 mm. long, with linear, reddish-brown marks on a pale gray background, the margins somewhat lacerate; perianth of 2-6 fragile, barbellate bristles; stamens usually 3; style bifid or trifid.


Achenes 2.2-2.5 mm. long, plano-convex or unequally triangular.

Accepted Name:
Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl. ex Bigelow) Á. Löve & D. Löve
Publication: Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 81: 33. 1954.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl. ex Bigelow) Á. Löve & D. Löve var. acutus [FNA23]
Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl. ex Bigelow) Á. Löve & D. Löve var. occidentalis (S. Watson) S.G. Sm. [FNA23]
Scirpus acutus Muhl. ex Bigelow [HC]
Scirpus acutus Muhl. ex Bigelow var. occidentalis (S. Watson) Beetle
Scirpus lacustris L. var. occidentalis S. Watson
Scirpus ×rubiginosus Beetle
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Schoenoplectus acutus in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Schoenoplectus acutus checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Schoenoplectus acutus information.

E-Flora BC: Schoenoplectus acutus atlas page.

CalPhotos: Schoenoplectus acutus photos.

USDA Plants: Schoenoplectus acutus information.

36 photographs:
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