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Eriophorum vaginatum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Eriophorum
Type species
Eriophorum vaginatum
Synonyms [1]
  • Eriophoropsis Palla
  • Leucoma Ehrh.
  • Linagrostis Guett.
  • Plumaria Bubani
  • Plumaria Heist. ex Fabr.

Eriophorum (cottongrass, cotton-grass or cottonsedge) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cyperaceae, the sedge family. They are found throughout the arctic, subarctic, and temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere in acid bog habitats, being particularly abundant in Arctic tundra regions.[2][3][4][5]

They are herbaceous perennial plants with slender, grass-like leaves. The seed heads are covered in a fluffy mass of cotton-like fibers which are carried on the wind to aid dispersal. The cotton grass also maintains a height of 12 inches and around 2 inches in water. In cold Arctic regions, these masses of translucent fibres also serve as 'down' – increasing the temperature of the reproductive organs during the Arctic summer by trapping solar radiation.[6]

Paper and the wicks of candles have been made of its fiber, and pillows stuffed with the same material. The leaves were formerly used in treating diarrhea, and the spongy pith of the stem for the removal of tapeworm.[7]

Selected species[edit]

These species are included:[5][1]


  1. ^ a b "Eriophorum L., Sp. Pl.: 52 (1753)". eMonocot. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  2. ^ Ball, Peter W. & Daniel E. Wujek (2002). "Eriophorum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 52. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 27. 1754". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Cyperaceae. Vol. 23. Oxford University Press. pp. 21–27. ISBN 978-0-19-515207-4. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  3. ^ Flora Europaea: Eriophorum
  4. ^ Flora of China, Vol. 23 Page 174, 羊胡子草属 yang hu zi cao shu, Eriophorum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 52. 1753.
  5. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  6. ^ Crawford, R. M. M. (1989). Studies in Plant Survival. Blackwell Science. pp. 54–55.
  7. ^ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Cotton-Grass" . Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.