Photo: Scirpus pendulus

Scirpus pendulus Muhl.

Pendulous Bulrush

Habitat: Marshes and wet meadows. [Open wetland, not coastal nor rivershore (non-forested, wetland); Old field/roadside (non-forested, wetland or upland)]

Range: Maine to Minnesota, South Dakota, and Colorado; south to Florida, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.

Aids to Identification: This perennial bulrush grows in dense, low tufts up to 1.5 meters in height. The flower clusters are terminal on rigid stems. Each spikelet is borne singly on a pedicel and is 6-13 mm long. Scales have chestnut colored sides and a green central strip. The 6 bristles are brown, smooth, and twice as long as the achene, which is purple-brown, with a short beak. S. pendulus is most similar to members of the S. cyperinus complex in that it has smooth perianth bristles much longer than the achenes. But unlike that group, the spikelets are not wooly and the achenes are 1-1.2 mm long (vs. 0.6-1 mm).

Photo: Scirpus pendulus

Ecological characteristics: In Maine, this species is known to occur in roadside swales.

Phenology: Fruits June - July.

Family: Cyperaceae

Synonyms: Scirpus lineatus auct. non Michx.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 8 town(s) in the following county(ies): Cumberland, Penobscot, York.

Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range.

Conservation considerations: This plant occurs in a few small wetlands or moist pockets along roadsides. Some road maintenance is obviously compatible with the species, but populations could be vulnerable to road-widening or extensive shoulder work.