Eriocaulon aquaticum (Common Pipewort)
|Also known as:||Seven-angle Pipewort|
|Habitat:||sun; soft water lakes, shallow water, sandy or mucky shores, bogs|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||4 to 9 inches above water|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are indistinct, forming a dense, white, button shaped cluster 1/8 to 3/8 inch across at the tip of a naked stem. Flower parts are gray but hidden by dense white hairs on the tips of the tepals and bracts, punctuated with the visible grayish to nearly black stamen tips (anthers).
Leaves and stems:
Leaves form a basal rosette and are papery thin, often translucent with 3 to 9 parallel veins the length of the blade, and also conspicuous cross hatched veinlets, especially near the base. The blade is widest at the base, 1/8 to 1/6 inch wide and ¾ to 3¾ inches long, evenly tapered out to the sharp tip. The stem is the single flower stalk, typically one per rosette, a rigid hollow pipe, somewhat twisted with prominent ridges and enclosed at the base in an inflated sheath. The stem is only a few inches tall on land-locked plants but can grow to 3 feet when submersed.
Eriocaulon aquaticum is one of only two species of this genus found at northern latitudes of the US and the only one found in Minnesota, where it is mostly restricted to lakes or bogs in the Arrowhead region. It can be found in both peaty/organic and sandy substrates from the shore waterline out to 3 foot depth, though typically in shallow water. Its diminutive size can make it difficult to pick out from among other emergent reeds or sedges.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Lake and Pine counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?