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Brown Bog-rush

Schoenus ferrugineus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cyperaceae (Sedge)
Also in this family:
American Galingale, Birdsfoot Sedge, Black Alpine Sedge, Black Bog-rush, Bladder Sedge, Bog Sedge, Bottle Sedge, Bristle Club-rush, Bristle Sedge, Broad-leaved Cotton-grass, Brown Beak-sedge, Chestnut Rush, Close-headed Alpine Sedge, Club Sedge, Common Club-rush, Common Cotton-grass, Common Sedge, Common Spike-rush, Curved Sedge, Deergrass, Dioecious Sedge, Distant Sedge, Divided Sedge, Dotted Sedge, Downy-fruited Sedge, Dwarf Sedge, Dwarf Spike-rush, Estuarine Sedge, False Fox Sedge, False Sedge, Few-flowered Sedge, Few-flowered Spike-rush, Fibrous Tussock Sedge, Fingered Sedge, Flat Sedge, Flea Sedge, Floating Club-rush, Gingerbread Sedge, Glaucous Sedge, Great Fen Sedge, Greater Pond Sedge, Greater Tussock Sedge, Green-ribbed Sedge, Grey Club-rush, Grey Sedge, Hair Sedge, Hairy Sedge, Haresfoot Sedge, Hare's-tail Cotton-grass, Heath Sedge, Hop Sedge, Large Yellow Sedge, Lesser Pond Sedge, Lesser Tussock Sedge, Long-bracted Sedge, Many-stalked Spike-rush, Mountain Bog Sedge, Needle Spike-rush, Northern Deergrass, Northern Spike-rush, Oval Sedge, Pale Sedge, Pendulous Sedge, Perennial Sedge, Pill Sedge, Prickly Sedge, Remote Sedge, Rock Sedge, Round-headed Club-rush, Russet Sedge, Salt Sedge, Sand Sedge, Scorched Alpine Sedge, Sea Club-rush, Sheathed Sedge, Slender Club-rush, Slender Cotton-grass, Slender Sedge, Slender Spike-rush, Slender Tufted Sedge, Smooth-stalked Sedge, Soft-leaved Sedge, Spiked Sedge, Spring Sedge, Star Sedge, Starved Wood Sedge, Stiff Sedge, String Sedge, Sweet Galingale, Tall Bog Sedge, Tawny Sedge, Thin-spiked Wood Sedge, Triangular Club-rush, True Fox Sedge, Tufted Sedge, Water Sedge, White Beak-sedge, White Sedge, Wood Club-rush, Wood Sedge, Yellow Sedge
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall

Brown, no petals
Brown spikelets.
An achene surrounded by a hard white coating.
Thread-like, unbranched, upright stems which grow in tight clumps straight from the ground. Reddish-brown leaf sheaths. Grows in wet peat.
Other Names:
Rust-coloured Bog Rush, Rusty Bog Cotton.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Schoenus ferrugineus, also known as rust-colored bog cotton or rusty bog cotton, is a perennial flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Cyperaceae family and is closely related to other members of the Schoenus genus, such as black bog cotton and brown bog cotton. The plant is known for its clusters of small, pink or purple flowers that are borne on slender, wiry stems above the foliage. It has narrow, green leaves and grows to be about 1-2 feet tall. S. ferrugineus is a popular garden plant and is often used in wetland or bog gardens. It is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but it prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant is attractive to pollinators and is a popular nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other insects. It is also used medicinally in some traditional cultures and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin irritation.


Brown Bog-rush, Schoenus ferrugineus, is a species of sedge plant native to many countries in the Northern Hemisphere, including the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America. It is a robust and hardy plant, able to grow in a wide range of habitats, from bogs and fens to damp meadows and roadsides.

The brown bog-rush gets its name from its brownish-red color, which comes from the rusty-brown sheaths that cover its stem and leaves. The plant is quite distinctive, with a stem that can grow up to 60 cm tall and long, narrow leaves that grow up to 15 cm in length. In the summer, the brown bog-rush produces dense spikes of brownish flowers that are highly attractive to bees and other pollinators.

Despite its robust nature, the brown bog-rush is considered to be a threatened species in many countries due to habitat destruction and the drainage of wetlands. This is a shame, as the plant plays an important role in many ecosystems, providing food and shelter for a wide range of insects, mammals, and birds.

In addition to its ecological importance, the brown bog-rush also has many traditional uses. For example, in some countries, it was used to make baskets and mats, while in others, it was used to thatch roofs or line walls to keep out the cold. In some cultures, the plant was even believed to have medicinal properties and was used to treat a range of ailments, from cuts and wounds to digestive problems.

Overall, the brown bog-rush is a fascinating and important plant that deserves to be better known and protected. If you're lucky enough to live near a wetland or bog, take some time to look for this magnificent species and appreciate all that it has to offer.

Aside from its ecological and cultural importance, the brown bog-rush is also an important indicator of water quality and wetland health. In a healthy wetland, the brown bog-rush will thrive and dominate the area, whereas in an unhealthy wetland, it may struggle to grow or be absent entirely. This makes it an important tool for monitoring the health of wetlands and ensuring that they are properly managed and protected.

The brown bog-rush is also a key component of many wetland restoration projects, as it is able to quickly colonize and stabilize disturbed areas, helping to prevent erosion and improve water quality. In some cases, the plant has even been used to create new wetlands, by being used as a natural bio-engineering tool to create a framework of vegetation that can support other wetland plants.

One of the best ways to help protect and conserve the brown bog-rush is to support wetland conservation efforts, such as those of local conservation groups or government agencies. You can also help by avoiding activities that can harm wetlands, such as dumping waste or chemicals, or by supporting sustainable land use practices that minimize impacts on wetlands and other sensitive habitats.

Finally, if you have a wetland or bog on your property, consider planting some brown bog-rush to help improve its ecological health and diversity. You may even be able to find some plants or seeds from a local conservation group or nursery.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, the brown bog-rush is also an important source of food for many wildlife species. During the summer, when the spikes of brownish flowers appear, the plant provides a rich source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and other insects. This in turn provides a valuable food source for a variety of other animals, such as birds, mammals, and amphibians, who feed on these insects.

The brown bog-rush is also an important part of the diet of some herbivores, such as deer, who will feed on the leaves and stems of the plant during the winter months when other food sources are scarce. This makes the brown bog-rush a critical part of the food web in many wetland ecosystems, and highlights the importance of conserving these habitats and the species that depend on them.

The brown bog-rush is also a valuable plant for the horticultural industry. Because of its tolerance to damp conditions, the plant is often used in landscaping and garden design to provide a natural and attractive look to wetlands, ponds, and other water features. In addition, the plant is also popular for use in flower arrangements and as a cut flower, where its distinctive brownish-red color and long, narrow leaves make it a popular choice for florists.

In conclusion, the brown bog-rush is a remarkable plant that plays many important roles in our ecosystems, as well as in our culture, history, and economy. Whether you're a gardener, a conservationist, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty and value of nature, it's worth taking the time to learn more about this fascinating species and to support efforts to conserve and protect it.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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