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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Slender Bulrush - Schoenoplectus heterochaetus
Other Names:  Scirpus heterochaetus

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1S2
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 8

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Information on the species is lacking within montana where it is recorded from only two poorly documented sites. However, its apparent rarity in the state warrants a high conservation status rank.
General Description
Stems terete, 50–200 cm, filled with spongy air cavities. Leaf blades reduced to scales. Inflorescence usually open with solitary spikelets on tips of spreading to erect peduncles. Spikelets 5–15 mm long. Scales 2.5–4 mm long, lacerate to ciliate, light brown with short, dark red, parallel lines; awn ca. 0.5 mm long. Flowers: bristles 4, ca. as long as achene; stigmas 3. Achene 3-sided, dark brown, 2–3 mm long (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Fruiting in August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The more common Scirpus acutus and S. validus are similar but have 2 stigmas and sessile spikelets arranged in small clusters. A land lens will be necessary for positive identification.

Species Range

Range Comments
Phillips County. AB to QC south to CA, ID, WY, OK and NY (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 5

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Marshes and edges of lakes and ponds on the plains.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Fassett, N. C. 1985. (3rd ed.) A Manual of Aquatic Plants, with Revision Appendix by E. C. Ogden. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 405 pp.
    • Heidel, B.L., S.V. Cooper and C. Jean. 2000. Plant species of special concern and plant associations of Sheridan County, Montana. Report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, Montana. 96 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Slender Bulrush — Schoenoplectus heterochaetus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from