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Many-stalked Spike-rush

Eleocharis multicaulis

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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, Brown Bog-rush, 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, 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:
1 metre tall
Bogs, gardens, heathland, sand dunes, swamps, water, wetland.

Brown, no petals
Brown, oval spikelet situated at the very top of an erect stem. 3 stigmas.
The fruit is an achene. It is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit surrounded by scales.
The cylindrical stems are leafless. Grows in bog pools and by the side of lochs where the soil is acidic.
Other Names:
Many-stemmed Spike-rush.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Eleocharis multicaulis, also known as many-stemmed spikerush or many-stemmed spike-rush, is a species of rush that is native to wetland habitats in parts of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is a perennial herb that typically grows to a height of about 30 centimeters (12 inches) and has narrow, pointed leaves. The flowers are small and inconspicuous and are arranged in spikes at the top of the stem. This plant is often used in ornamental gardening, particularly in water gardens and bog gardens. It can also be used to stabilize shorelines and control erosion.


Many-stalked Spike-rush (Eleocharis multicaulis) is a perennial, herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Cyperaceae. It is commonly found in wetlands and along the edges of ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams in the eastern and central parts of North America. In this blog, we will explore the characteristics, habitat, and ecological significance of the Many-stalked Spike-rush.


Many-stalked Spike-rush is a small, slender plant that can grow up to 1 meter tall. It has a rhizomatous growth habit, meaning it spreads through underground stems. The stems are thin and wiry, with narrow leaves that grow in tufts at the base of the plant. The flowers are arranged in small, cylindrical clusters at the tips of the stems, which are usually green, but can turn reddish-brown with age.


Many-stalked Spike-rush is adapted to wetland environments, and can tolerate periods of flooding and waterlogged soils. It can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including swamps, marshes, bogs, and fens. The plant prefers full to partial sun exposure, and is often found growing in association with other wetland species, such as cattails, sedges, and rushes.

Ecological Significance

Many-stalked Spike-rush plays an important ecological role in wetland ecosystems. The plant's dense root system helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, while the aboveground stems provide cover and nesting habitat for a variety of wetland animals, such as waterfowl and marsh birds. The plant also serves as a food source for a number of wetland insects and small mammals.

In addition to its ecological significance, Many-stalked Spike-rush has been used by humans for a variety of purposes. The plant's stems were traditionally used by Native Americans to weave baskets and mats, and the roots were used to make a tea that was used to treat fevers and other illnesses.

Conservation Status

Many-stalked Spike-rush is not considered a threatened or endangered species, but like many wetland plants, it is vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation. Wetlands are often drained or filled in for development or agricultural purposes, which can destroy the habitat that Many-stalked Spike-rush and other wetland species rely on for survival. Conservation efforts, such as wetland restoration and preservation, are important for protecting the plant and the ecosystem it supports.

Many-stalked Spike-rush is a fascinating and ecologically important plant that plays a critical role in wetland ecosystems. Its adaptations to wetland environments, as well as its historical and cultural significance, make it a valuable and cherished member of the natural world.

Additional Details about Many-stalked Spike-rush

Here are some additional details about Many-stalked Spike-rush that you might find interesting:

  1. Taxonomy: Many-stalked Spike-rush belongs to the genus Eleocharis, which includes over 250 species of plants that are found in wetland habitats around the world. Other common names for Many-stalked Spike-rush include Many-stalked Spikerush, Tall Spike-rush, and Common Spike-rush.

  2. Reproduction: Many-stalked Spike-rush reproduces both vegetatively through rhizomes and sexually through seeds. The plant's flowers are wind-pollinated, and produce small, hard, brown seeds that are dispersed by water and animals.

  3. Ethnobotanical uses: In addition to its medicinal and basket-weaving uses, Many-stalked Spike-rush has been used by humans for a variety of other purposes. For example, the plant's stems have been used to make cordage and fishing nets, and its roots have been used to dye textiles a dark brown color.

  4. Ecological threats: Wetland ecosystems, including those in which Many-stalked Spike-rush grows, are under threat from a variety of human activities. Wetlands are often drained or filled in for development, and are also affected by pollution and climate change. These threats can have serious consequences for the plants, animals, and ecosystem services provided by wetlands.

  5. Wetland restoration: Efforts to restore and protect wetlands are critical for preserving Many-stalked Spike-rush and other wetland species. Wetland restoration involves recreating or improving wetland habitats that have been degraded or destroyed, often through the use of techniques like controlled burning, revegetation, and water management. Restoration can help to improve water quality, reduce flooding, and support the many species that rely on wetlands for survival.

In summary, Many-stalked Spike-rush is a fascinating and important plant that plays a critical role in wetland ecosystems. As we continue to learn more about the ecological value of wetlands, it is increasingly important to support efforts to conserve and restore these vital habitats.

And some more facts...

Sure, here are some additional interesting facts about Many-stalked Spike-rush:

  1. Early bloomer: Many-stalked Spike-rush is one of the earliest flowering wetland plants, with its blooms appearing as early as May or June. This is an important source of food for early emerging insects and provides a nectar source for pollinators.

  2. Geographic distribution: Many-stalked Spike-rush is native to North America and can be found in a broad range of habitats throughout the continent, from southern Canada to the southern United States.

  3. Cultural importance: Many-stalked Spike-rush has been used by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years for various purposes. For example, some Native American tribes used the plant's rhizomes to make a flour-like substance that was used in cooking, and the stems were used to make mats and baskets.

  4. Invasive potential: Although Many-stalked Spike-rush is not considered an invasive species, it has the potential to become invasive in some areas. Invasive wetland plants can displace native species, alter hydrological processes, and negatively impact the ecology of the wetland.

  5. Conservation efforts: There are ongoing efforts to conserve Many-stalked Spike-rush and other wetland plants through habitat restoration and preservation. Wetland restoration can involve the removal of invasive species, planting of native species, and the creation of new wetland habitats. Wetland preservation involves protecting existing wetlands from development, pollution, and other threats.

Overall, Many-stalked Spike-rush is a fascinating plant with a rich ecological and cultural history. Understanding the importance of wetland ecosystems and supporting conservation efforts can help to ensure that this and other wetland species continue to thrive for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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