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Eriophorum vaginatum L. (Hare's-tail Cottongrass, Tussock Cottongrass, Sheathed Cottonsedge) is a species of perennial herbaceous plants in the family Cyperaceae, native to bogs and other acidic wetlands throughout the Holarctic Kingdom.
The arctic tussock tundra ecosystem is characterized by the dominance of Eriophorum spp., in particular E. vaginatum. This species has a circumboreal distribution and can be found throughout the British Isles (except in the southeast), the peaty tundras of Asia and North America, and the subarctic forest zones of Siberia and Western Canada .
E. vaginatum is a 30-60 cm high tussock-forming plant. The inflorescence is a dense, tufted cyme with erect solitary, multiflowered spikelets. It is rhizomatous, with leaves usually longer than the stem, and the fruit is an achene. Each individual tussock is comprised of 300-600 tillers, which contain two to three needle-like leaves enclosed in a sheath at the base. The density of tillers in a tussock depends both upon the diameter of the tussock (tiller density decreases as tussock diameter increases) and invasion by mosses and shrubs, factors which also affect tiller size and robustness of tiller production.
Life-cycle and Reproduction
- Wein, R.W. (1973). Eriophorum vaginatum L. Journal of Ecology, 61, 601-615.
- Howard, Janet L. 1993. Eriophorum vaginatum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2012, February 24]
- Fetcher, N. & Shaver, G.R. (1982). Growth and tillering patterns within tussocks of Eriophorum vaginatum. Holarctic Ecology, 5,180-186.