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Scirpus atrovirens NRCS-3.jpg
Scirpus atrovirens
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Scirpus

About 120; see text

  • Chamaeschoenus Ehrh.
  • Leiophyllum Ehrh.
  • Dichismus Raf.
  • Diplarinus Raf.
  • Seidlia Opiz
  • Actaeogeton Steud.
  • Blepharolepis Nees
  • Nemocharis Beurl.
  • Taphrogiton Montandon
  • Maximoviczia A.P.Khokhr.
  • Maximowicziella A.P.Khokhr.

Scirpus is a genus of grass-like species in the sedge family Cyperaceae many with the common names club-rush, wood club-rush or bulrush (see also bulrush for other plant genera so-named). They mostly inhabit wetlands and damp locations.


The taxonomy of the genus is complex, and under review by botanists. Recent studies by taxonomists of the Cyperaceae have resulted in the creation of several new genera, including the genera Schoenoplectus and Bolboschoenus; others (including Blysmus, Isolepis, Nomochloa, and Scirpoides) have also been used. At one point this genus held almost 300 species, but many of the species once assigned to it have now been reassigned, and it now holds an estimated 120 species.


Scirpus are rhizomatous perennial herbs, with 3-angled stems and flat grass-like leaves. The flowers are in clusters of small spikelets, often brown or greenish brown.[2]: 992  Some species (e.g. S. lacustris) can reach a height of 3 m, while S. sylvaticus is about 1.2 m and others, such as S. supinus, are much smaller, only reaching 20–30 cm tall.


The genus has a nearly cosmopolitan distribution, found on every continent except Africa and Antarctica.[1]


Many species are common in wetlands and can produce dense stands of vegetation, along rivers,[3][4] in coastal deltas[5] and in ponds and potholes.[6] Although flooding is the most important factor affecting its distribution, drought, ice scour, grazing, fire and salinity also affect its abundance.[7] It can survive unfavourable conditions like prolonged flooding, or drought, as buried seeds[8]

Scirpus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including Chedra microstigma[9][10] and Scirpophaga nivella.[11]

Selected species[edit]

(This list is incomplete, and may include some species now assigned to other genera.)
Selected species in a broader view of the genus

Fossil record[edit]

Several hundred fossil fruits of Scirpus ragozinii have been described from middle Miocene strata of the Fasterholt area near Silkeborg in Central Jutland, Denmark.[12] 35 fossil fruits of the extant Scirpus sylvaticus have been extracted from borehole samples of the Middle Miocene fresh water deposits in Nowy Sacz Basin, West Carpathians, Poland.[13]


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.


  1. ^ a b "Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Royal Botanic Garden Kew. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  2. ^ Stace, C. A. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles (Fourth ed.). Middlewood Green, Suffolk, U.K.: C & M Floristics. ISBN 978-1-5272-2630-2.
  3. ^ Auclair, A. N. D., Bouchard, A. and Pajaczkowski, J. (1976). "Plant standing crop and productivity relations in a Scirpus–Equisetum wetland". Ecology. 57 (5): 941–52. doi:10.2307/1941059. JSTOR 1941059.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Day, R. T., Keddy, P. A., McNeill, J., and Carleton, T. (1988). "Fertility and disturbance gradients: a summary model for riverine marsh vegetation". Ecology. 69 (4): 1044–54. doi:10.2307/1941260. JSTOR 1941260.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  5. ^ Gough, L. G., Grace, J. B., and Taylor, K. L. (1994). "The relationship between species richness and community biomass: the importance of environmental variables". Oikos. 70 (2): 271–9. doi:10.2307/3545638. JSTOR 3545638.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ van der Valk, A. G. (1989). Northern Prairie Wetlands. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.
  7. ^ Keddy, P.A. (2010). Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2 ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ van der Valk, A. G. and Davis, C. B. (1976). "The seed banks of prairie glacial marshes". Canadian Journal of Botany. 54 (15): 1832–8. doi:10.1139/b76-197.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. ^ Busck, August (1914). "New Microlepidoptera from Hawaii". Insecutor Inscitiae Menstruus. 2 (7): 106.
  10. ^ Zimmerman, Elwood C. (1978). Insects of Hawaii (PDF). Vol. 9 Microlepidoptera. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii. pp. 1003–1015.
  11. ^ Common, I. F. B. (1960). "A revision of the Australian Stem Borers hitherto referred to Schoenobius and Scirpophaga (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae, Schoenobiinae)". Australian Journal of Zoology. 8 (2): 307–347. doi:10.1071/ZO9600307. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  12. ^ Angiosperm Fruits and Seeds from the Middle Miocene of Jutland (Denmark) by Else Marie Friis, The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters 24:3, 1985
  13. ^ Łańcucka-Środoniowa M.: Macroscopic plant remains from the freshwater Miocene of the Nowy Sącz Basin (West Carpathians, Poland) [Szczątki makroskopowe roślin z miocenu słodkowodnego Kotliny Sądeckiej (Karpaty Zachodnie, Polska)]. Acta Palaeobotanica 1979 20 (1): 3-117.

External links[edit]


  • 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))