Trichophorum cespitosum (Tufted Bulrush)

Plant Info
Also known as: Tufted Club-sedge, Tufted Club-rush, Tufted Leafless-Bulrush, Deergrass
Family:Cyperaceae (Sedge)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; wet marly or rocky soil; bogs, fens, shores
Fruiting season:June - August
Plant height:4 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowering spike] A single spike at the top of the stem, lance-elliptic in outline, 3 to 7 mm (to ~¼ inch) long, with 3 to 9 florets spirally arranged, each floret subtended by a single scale. Scales are 3 to 4 mm long, the midrib slightly extended at the tip, reddish to brown. Florets have 3 stamens and a 3-parted style. At the base of the spike is a single, erect bract about as long as the spike, scale-like with a green midrib that extends to a very short awn.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of upper leaf] Leaves are mostly basal. A single stem leaf less than ½ inch long is near the base. Sheaths are concave at the tip. Stems are slender, grooved (or ridged), round in cross-section, smooth, and only a few inches tall at flowering time but extend up to 16 inches at maturity.

[photo of old persistent stems] Plants form dense clumps, the old dead stems and sheaths persisting and building up around the clump of new growth.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of scale and achenes] Each flower produces a single achene (seed), that drops off independently of the scale, the scales usually dropping first. Achenes are 1.4 to 1.7 mm long, dark brown to blackish, smooth and somewhat shiny on the surface, compressed 3-sided in cross-section, urn-shaped in outline, rounded at the tip end and tapering at the base. Surrounding the achene are 6 brown bristles that are as long as or slightly longer than the achene.


Tufted Bulrush, sometimes misspelled T. caespitosum, is a circumboreal species of wet, marly or rocky habitats, including bogs, fens and is a common sight on the rocky north shore of Lake Superior. It is native to parts of Europe and Asia as well as the northern latitudes and higher altitudes of North America. Trichophorum Bulrushes, with their short stature and single terminal spike, look less like other Bulrushes and more like Spikerushes (Eloecharis species). Spikerushes have smooth, round or compressed stems that are not grooved, 2 leaves per stem that are reduced to bladeless sheaths, the bract at the base of the spike is not much different from the floral scales and lacks a green midrib, and achenes usually have a cap-like appendage (tubercle) at the tip.

Tufted Bulrush is distinguished by its single spike, grooved/ridged stems that are smooth, nearly leafless, and round in cross-section, and dense tuft of old, persistent stems and sheaths. It is most similar to Clinton's Bulrush (T. clintonii), which has 3-sided stems and more conspicuous stem leaves that (at flowering time) may be as long as the stem.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Cook and Mahnomen counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Gary - Temperance River State Park
on: 2019-06-11 17:57:16

In crevices near the shore.

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