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Wetland and Aquatic Plants of Oklahoma

Interactive Keys: Emergent


Sedges (Cyperaceae)

3. Bulrushes (Scrirpus spp. and Schoenoplectus spp.)

Note: The oblong sedge stem borer's (Archanara oblonga) can be found on bulrushes.  The seeds are favored by many species of shorebird, waterfowl, and songbirds.  The rhizomes are eaten by geese and beavers.  The dense growth of several species provides cover for many wildlife species.
          a. Stems round
              i. stems appear to project beyond inflorescence
             ii. inflorescence project from end of stem
          b. Stems triangle

Plants with round stems

Stem appears to project beyond the inflorescence

Hardstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl. ex Bigelow) A.& D. L÷ve)  
Native perennial

                                                                                                                                                                click on thumbnails to enlarge
Schoenoplectus acutus map                                                Schoenoplectus acutus

Note: The inner portion of the stem as eaten many tribes, including the Cheyenne.  An important source of fiber for weaving.

NWI status: OBL

California bulrush (Schoenoplectus californicus (C.A. Mey.) Palla) 
Native perennial.

Schoenoplectus californicus map                                    Schoenoplectus californicus

Note: An important source of fiber for weaving.

NWI status: OBL

Hall's bulrush (Schoenoplectus hallii (Gray) S.G. Sm.) 
Native perennial.

Schoenoplectus hallii map                                        Schoenoplectus hallii

Note: A small species which grows primarily on drawdown areas along lake margins.  Hall’s bulrush is rare and known from only a limited number of sites.

NWI status: OBL

Rocky Mountain bulrush (Schoenoplectus saximontanus (Fern.) Raynal)
Native perennial.

Schoenoplectus saximontanus map                                     Schoenoplectus saximontanus   

Note: A small species which grows primarily on drawdown areas along lake margins.  Very similar in appearance to Hall’s bulrush.  The achenes of Rocky Mountain bulrush are triangular shaped, whereas the achenes of Hall’s bulrush are two-sided (lenticular).  An uncommon species.

NWI status: OBL

Softstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (K.C. Gmel.) Palla) 
Native perennial.

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani map                                       Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

Note: A very common species throughout Oklahoma.  A short-lived perennial that grows in dense clumps.  Used by the Cherokee to induce vomiting.  An important fiber plant for many tribes, including the Pawnee, Ponca, and Potawatomie.

NWI status: OBL

Inflorescence projects from the end of the stem

Green bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens Willd.) 
Native perennial.

Scirpus atrovirens map                                      Scirpus atrovirens

Note: The inflorescence is densely clustered.  A fairly common sedge in eastern Oklahoma.

NWI status: OBL

Woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus (L.) Kunth) 
Native perennial.

Scirpus cyperinus map                              Scirpus cyperinus

Note: A beautiful, large, robust species that grows in marshes and swamps in southeastern Oklaoma.  A larval food plant for some moth species.

NWI status: OBL

Slender bulrush (Schoenoplectus heterochaetus (Chase) Soják)
Native perennial.

Schoenoplectus heterochaetus map                                              Schoenoplectus heterochaetus

Note: Slender, drooping, and rufous bulrushes are similar in appearance.  Although trying, it is best to compare the small bristles that extend from the base of the seed (achene).

NWI status: OBL

Drooping bulrush (Scirpus lineatus Michx.) 
Native perennial.

Scirpus lineatus map                                   Scirpus lineatus

NWI status:

Rufous bulrush (Scirpus pendulus Muhl.) 
Native perennial.

Scirpus pendulus map                                           Scirpus pendulus

NWI status: OBL

Plants with triangle stems

Chairmaker's or American bulrush (Schoenoplectus americanus (Pers.) Volk. ex Schinz & R. Keller) 
Native perennial.

Schoenoplectus americanus map                     Schoenoplectus americanus

Note: Although this species can be found throughout Oklahoma, it is most common in western Oklahoma.  It can be found growing along stream and lake margins.  It is tolerant of salty water. An important source of fiber for weaving.

NWI status: OBL

Bulrush (Schoenoplectus maritimus (L.) Lye)
Native perennial.

Schoenoplectus maritimus map                                        Schoenoplectus maritimus

Note: Common in western Oklahoma.  Seem to prefer saline streams.

NWI status: OBL

Last update: 2/23/04
Comments to : Bruce Hoagland


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