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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Eleocharis palustris

Creeping Spikerush

Flower color: green Flower color: brown
Full sun Mostly sunny
Wet soil


At a Glance: A wetland plant with leafless, grass-like stems topped by small brownish spikes of flowers.

Height: Up to 3 feet (100 cm).
Growth Form: Graminoid.
Stems: Stems are oval in cross-section, arising singly or in clusters from long, dark-brown rhizome, with reddish sheaths at base.
Leaves: All basal leaves and reduced to mere sheaths without any leaf blades; sheaths are small, thin, dark reddish, and tightly girdle the bases of the stems.
Flowers: A solitary, terminal spikelet with 2-3 empty scales at the base; fertile scales several, spirally arranged; 2 stigmas; 40-100 flowers per spike; primary color: brown; size: 5-25 mm long; shape: lance to egg-shaped.
Fruits: Achenes, lens-shaped, surmounted by a conical tubercle (nose cone), surrounded by typically 4 bristles a bit longer then the achene; size: 1-1.5 mm long; color: yellow-brown.

Eleocharis palustris
Photo © Starflower Foundation
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

Prefers flooded conditions.

wet
moist
dry

Wetland Indicator Status:
OBL (obligate wetland)
low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
(data not available)

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover

Birds: These plants produce a large clusters of water-dispersed seeds that are eaten by swans, geese, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, widgeons, teal, rails, and coots. The underground tubers may also be eaten by several bird species.. The stems provide a perching site for many bird species.
Other Wildlife: The stems are used as egg-case attachment sites by pond-breeding amphibians, including the Pacific treefrogs and long-toed salamanders.


Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
(data not available)


Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.