The plant genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Scirpus consists of a large number of aquatic, grass-like species in the family Cyperaceae
Cyperaceae are a family of monocotyledonous graminoid flowering plants known as sedges, which superficially resemble grasses or rushes. The family is large, with some 5,500 species described in about 109 genera. These species are widely distributed, with the centers of diversity for the group...

 (the sedges), many with the common names club-rush or bulrush (see also bulrush
-Wetland plants:* Bolboschoenus, a genus in the sedge family * Cyperus, a genus in the sedge family * Scirpus, a genus in the sedge family * Schoenoplectus, a genus in the sedge family...

for other plants so-named). Other common names are deergrass or grassweed.

The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution
Cosmopolitan distribution
In biogeography, a taxon is said to have a cosmopolitan distribution if its range extends across all or most of the world in appropriate habitats. For instance, the killer whale has a cosmopolitan distribution, extending over most of the world's oceans. Other examples include humans, the lichen...

, and grows in wetlands and moist soil. Some species specialize in saline
Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content of a body of water. It is a general term used to describe the levels of different salts such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates...

, marsh
In geography, a marsh, or morass, is a type of wetland that is subject to frequent or continuous flood. Typically the water is shallow and features grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, other herbaceous plants, and moss....

y, environments such as intertidal mud-flats; others prefer ponds or lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

-sides and river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

-beds. They have grass-like leaves, and clusters of small spikelets, often brown in colour. Some species (e.g. S. lacustris) can reach a height of 3 m, while others (e.g. S. supinus) are much smaller, only reaching 20–30 cm tall.

Scirpus species are often planted to inhibit soil erosion and provide habitat for other wildlife. They are also used in some herbal remedies; the plant's rhizomes are collected in the autumn and winter and dried in the sun before use.

The taxonomy of the genus is complex, and under review by botanists. Recent studies by taxonomists
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

 of the Cyperaceae have resulted in the creation of several new genera, including the genera Schoenoplectus
Schoenoplectus is a genus of about 80 species of sedges with a cosmopolitan distribution. Note that the name bulrush is also applied to species in the unrelated genus Typha...

 and Bolboschoenus
Bolboschoenus is a genus of plants in the sedge family....

; others (including Blysmus, Isolepis
Isolepis is a cosmopolitan genus of sedge. It contains around 70 species. It was first described by prolific botanist Robert Brown in 1810....

, Nomochloa, and Scirpoides) have also been used. At one point this genus held almost 300 species, but many of the species once assigned to this genus have now been re-assigned, and it now holds an estimated 120 species.

Scirpus species are used as food plants by the larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e of some Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 species including Batrachedra cuniculata
Batrachedra is the largest genus in the moth family Batrachedridae.It includes the following species:*Batrachedra acrodeta*Batrachedra agaura*Batrachedra albanica*Batrachedra albicapitella*Batrachedra albistrigella...


Selected species
(This list is incomplete, and may include some species now assigned to other genera.)
  • Scirpus ancistrochaetus
    Scirpus ancistrochaetus
    Scirpus ancistrochaetus is a rare species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common name northeastern bulrush. It is native to the northeastern United States from New Hampshire south to Virginia. It used to be found in Quebec but it is now thought to be extirpated there...

     Northeastern Bulrush
  • Scirpus atrocinctus Black-girdle Bulrush
  • Scirpus atrovirens Woolgrass Bulrush
  • Scirpus bicolor
    Scirpus bicolor
    Scirpus bicolor is a species of plant in the Cyperaceae family. The plant is endemic to Tristan da Cunha, Nightingale Island, Inaccessible Island and Gough Island. Its natural habitats are subantarctic forests, subantarctic shrubland, and swamps....

  • Scirpus campestris Salt Marsh Bulrush
  • Scirpus cespitosus Deergrass
  • Scirpus congdonii
    Scirpus congdonii
    Scirpus congdonii is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common name Congdon's bulrush. It is native to the mountains and plateaus of far northern California and adjacent sections of southern Oregon and western Nevada. It can be found in wetland habitat and other moist...

     Congdon's Bulrush
  • Scirpus cyperinus
    Scirpus cyperinus
    Scirpus cyperinus, commonly known as woolgrass, is a herbaceous emergent that is native to the eastern United States and eastern Canada....

     - Cottongrass Bulrush
  • Scirpus diffusus
    Scirpus diffusus
    Scirpus diffusus is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common name umbrella bulrush. It is endemic to California, where it can be found in several of the high mountain ranges from the Klamath Mountains to the Sierra Nevada. It grows in wetland habitat and other moist...

  • Scirpus divaricatus Spreading Bulrush
  • Scirpus expansus Woodland Beakrush
  • Scirpus flaccidifolius Reclining Bulrush
  • Scirpus fluitans Floating Club-rush
  • Scirpus fluviatilis
    Scirpus fluviatilis
    Scirpus fluviatilis is a species of flowering plant in the Cyperaceae family. Its range spans from east Asia to North America and Australia...

     - River Bulrush
  • Scirpus georgianus Georgia Bulrush
  • Scirpus hattorianus Bulrush
  • Scirpus lineatus Drooping Bulrush
  • Scirpus longii Long's Bulrush
  • Scirpus mariqueter
  • Scirpus microcarpus
    Scirpus microcarpus
    Scirpus microcarpus is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common names panicled bulrush, smallfruit bulrush, and barberpole bulrush...

     Small-fruit Bulrush
  • Scirpus mucronatus
    Schoenoplectus mucronatus
    Schoenoplectus mucronatus is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common names bog bulrush, roughseed bulrush, and ricefield bulrush. It is native to Eurasia and Africa it is known on other continents as an introduced species and sometimes a weed. It is a weed of rice...

  • Scirpus nevadensis
    Amphiscirpus is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the sedge family containing the single species Amphiscirpus nevadensis, which is known by the common name Nevada bulrush. This plant was formerly included in genus Scirpus...

     Nevada Bulrush
  • Scirpus olneyi Olney Bulrush
  • Scirpus pacificus Pacific Coast Bulrush
  • Scirpus pallidus Pale Bulrush
  • Scirpus paludosus Salt Marsh Bulrush
  • Scirpus pedicellatus Stalked Bulrush
  • Scirpus pendulus
    Scirpus pendulus
    Scirpus pendulus is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common names pendulous bulrush, rufous bulrush, and nodding bulrush. It is native to North America, where it can be found throughout the eastern United States and Canada, through the American midwest, some areas of...

     Pendulous Bulrush
  • Scirpus polyphyllus Leafy Bulrush
  • Scirpus pumilus Dwarf Deergrass
  • Scirpus pungens
    Scirpus pungens
    Schoenoplectus pungens is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common name Common Three-Square. It is a herbaceous emergent plant that is native to the Americas, Europe, Australasia, and elsewhere....

     Sharp Club-rush
  • Scirpus radicans
  • Scirpus robustus Salt Marsh Bulrush
  • Scirpus supinus Dwarf Club-rush
  • Scirpus sylvaticus Wood Club-rush
  • Scirpus triqueter Triangular Club-rush

Selected species in a broader view of the genus
  • Bolboschoenus maritimus
    Bolboschoenus maritimus
    Bolboschoenus maritimus is a species of flowering plant from family Cyperaceae. Common names for this species include sea clubrush, cosmopolitan bulrush, alkali bulrush, saltmarsh bulrush, and bayonet grass...

     Sea Club-rush
  • Isolepis cernua
    Isolepis cernua
    Isolepis cernua is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common names fiberoptic grass, tufted clubrush, and low bulrush. It is widespread, being native to many regions of the world, including parts of Australasia, Eurasia, Africa, and North and South America.-External...

     Slender Club-rush
  • Isolepis setacea
    Isolepis setacea
    Isolepis setacea is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common name bristleleaf bulrush. It is native to Eurasia and Africa, and possibly Australasia. It can be found in other places, including some areas in North America, where it is an introduced species...

     Bristle Club-rush
  • Schoenoplectus acutus Tule
  • Schoenoplectus hudsonianus Alpine Deergrass
  • Schoenoplectus lacustris Common Club-rush
  • Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
    Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
    Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani is a species of flowering plant in the sedge family known by the common names softstem bulrush and great bulrush. It can be found throughout the world, growing in many types of moist and wet habitat, and sometimes in shallow water. It is quite variable in appearance...

  • Scirpoides holoschoenus Round-headed Club-rush

External links


  • Muntz, Philip A. A California Flora. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1973, copyright 1959
  • Muntz, Philip A. A California Flora: Supplement’’. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976 (Scirpus lacutris, validus, glaucus, p. 183))
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