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Dwarf Spike-rush

Eleocharis parvula

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


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, 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:
15 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, marshes, meadows, mud, riversides, seaside, waterside, wetland.

Green, no petals
A cylindrical green spikelet.
The fruit is a brown nut.
Thread-like, leafless stems. Linear with parallel venation. Often seen growing in tidal mud.
Other Names:
Dwarf Hairgrass, Small Spikerush.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Eleocharis parvula, also known as dwarf spikerush, is a species of rush that is native to wetlands in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is a perennial herb that typically grows to a height of about 5-15 centimeters (2-6 inches) and has narrow, pointed leaves. The flowers are small and inconspicuous and are arranged in spikes at the top of the stem.

It prefers wet soil, such as those found in marshes, fens, bogs, along the edges of ponds, lakes and streams. It can also be found in damp meadows and wet prairies. It is a suitable plant for the edges of water features and can be used in small-scale wetland restoration projects. It can also be used in ornamental gardening, particularly in water gardens and bog gardens. Due to its small size, it is also popular in the creation of miniature gardens and terrariums.


Dwarf Spike-rush, scientifically known as Eleocharis parvula, is a popular aquatic plant that is widely used in freshwater aquariums and aquascaping. Native to North America, this plant belongs to the Cyperaceae family and is commonly found in marshes, swamps, and wetlands.

Appearance and Characteristics

Dwarf Spike-rush is a small, grass-like plant that can grow up to 3-10 cm in height. It has thin, green stems with needle-like leaves that are about 2-3 cm long. The plant forms a dense carpet-like cover on the substrate, which can be very appealing when used in an aquascape.

This plant is also known for its adaptability, as it can grow both submerged and emersed, depending on the water level. When submerged, Dwarf Spike-rush can be grown in both low-light and high-light conditions, and it does not require much maintenance.

Growing and Care

Dwarf Spike-rush is a relatively easy plant to care for, making it a popular choice for beginners and experienced hobbyists alike. It can grow in a variety of substrates, including sand, gravel, and soil, as long as it is nutrient-rich and well-draining. In a high-tech aquarium, this plant can benefit from the addition of CO2 and fertilizers to support its growth.

The plant prefers temperatures between 20-28°C and a pH range of 6-7.5. It can tolerate a wide range of water hardness and does not require frequent water changes.


Propagation of Dwarf Spike-rush is simple, and the plant can easily spread through runners that grow from the main plant. These runners can be trimmed and replanted to create new carpets or fill in empty spaces in the aquarium.

Uses in Aquascaping

Dwarf Spike-rush is a popular choice for aquascaping, as it can be used to create a natural-looking carpet in the foreground of an aquarium. Its small size and adaptability make it a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of aquascaping styles, from the traditional Dutch-style to the more modern Iwagumi style.

Dwarf Spike-rush is an excellent choice for any aquarist looking to add some greenery to their aquarium. With its ease of care, adaptability, and aesthetic appeal, it is no wonder that this plant has become a staple in the aquascaping community.

Benefits of Dwarf Spike-rush

Apart from its aesthetic appeal, Dwarf Spike-rush has several benefits for the aquatic ecosystem. It is known to be a good oxygenator, helping to increase the oxygen levels in the water, which can benefit other aquatic plants and fish.

This plant can also help to absorb excess nutrients from the water, which can help to prevent the growth of algae. In this way, Dwarf Spike-rush can contribute to maintaining a healthy and balanced aquatic environment.

Moreover, Dwarf Spike-rush can provide a natural habitat for aquatic creatures, such as small invertebrates, which can benefit the overall biodiversity of the aquarium.

Dwarf Spike-rush is an attractive and versatile aquatic plant that can add a natural and aesthetic touch to any aquarium. With its ease of care and adaptability, it is an excellent choice for aquarists of all skill levels. By providing benefits to the aquatic ecosystem, Dwarf Spike-rush can also contribute to creating a healthy and thriving aquarium environment.

When choosing to add Dwarf Spike-rush to an aquarium, it is essential to ensure that the plant is sourced from a reputable supplier, and that it is legal to own and grow in your area. It is also important to research and understand the plant's specific care requirements to ensure that it thrives and adds value to your aquatic ecosystem.

Dwarf Spike-rush in Nature

In its natural habitat, Dwarf Spike-rush can be found in wetlands, marshes, and other wet areas throughout North America. It is commonly found in areas with shallow standing water, such as along the edges of ponds and lakes.

As a wetland plant, Dwarf Spike-rush plays an important role in the ecosystem by providing habitat and food for a variety of animals. It is known to attract a variety of insect and bird species, as well as small mammals and amphibians.

Conservation Status

Although Dwarf Spike-rush is a common plant in its native range, it is considered a threatened species in some states in the United States. This is due to the loss and degradation of wetland habitats, which are critical for the survival of this and other wetland species.

As an aquarium plant, Dwarf Spike-rush is a valuable resource for aquarists to enjoy and cultivate. However, it is important to ensure that the plant is ethically sourced and that its harvest does not contribute to the decline of natural populations. Aquarists can help to protect this and other threatened plant species by purchasing plants from reputable suppliers and avoiding illegal harvesting.

In conclusion, Dwarf Spike-rush is an attractive and beneficial plant that has a place in both the natural environment and the aquarium hobby. As with any living organism, it is important to care for this plant responsibly and sustainably, to ensure its continued survival and enjoyment for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map