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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Delicate Spikerush - Eleocharis bella
Other Names:  Pretty Spikerush

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Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1
(see State Rank Reason below)
C-value: 4

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Eleocharis bella has been found in most of the western United States. In Montana Eleocharis bella has been confirmed at three locations, and another two locations need to be verified. However, these five sites have not been re-visited from the time collections were first made from 1923 to 1996. Plants can be overlooked, and some populations were noted as being small, which could make them vulnerable to extirpation. In Montana wetland habitats are limited and can be subjected to anthropogenic disturbances. Surveys to re-locate populations, validate presence, and collect data on population size, locations, and threats are greatly needed.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Delicate Spikerush (Eleocharis bella) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 08/07/2020
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Range Extent

    ScoreE - 5,000-20,000 sq km (~2,000-8,000 sq mi)

    Comment18,352 square kilometers for 5 observations or 5,726 square kilometers for the 3 verified observations.

    Area of Occupancy

    ScoreC - 3-5 4-km2 grid cells

    Number of Populations

    ScoreA - 1 - 5

    Comment3 specimens have valid identifications. 2 specimens are annotated, but might have databasing errors or duplicate specimens need to be re-evaluated; images are basically unavailable.

    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreB - Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common


    ScoreC - Medium

    CommentWetland habitat can be limited and threatened in general.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    ScoreA - Highly vulnerable

    CommentPopulations are small.

General Description
PLANTS: Annual plants with fibrous roots. Stems are erect, 1–8 cm, and tufted. Source: Lesica et al. 2012

LEAVES: Stems appear leafless, but at their base have 2 bladeless leaves. Source: Lesica et al. 2012

INFLORESCENCE: A solitary, terminal, bractless spikelet. Spikelet 1–3 mm long with 3 to 15 flowers. Scales are about 1 mm long, purplish with a green midrib, and have hyaline margins. Source: Lesica et al. 2012

Diagnostic Characteristics
Eleocharis bella - Delicate Spikerush, SOC
*Life Cycle: Annual; lacks rhizomes.
*Stems: 1-8 cm tall.
*Achene: whitish, honeycombed, obovoid, nearly round in cross-section, 0.5-1.0 mm long.
*Scales: about 1.0 mm long.
*Stigma: 3

Eleocharis ovata - Ovate Spikerush
*Life Cycle: Annual; lacks rhizomes.
*Achene: gray to brown, obovate, lenticular, and about 1.5 mm long.
*Scales: longer than the achene, 2-2.5 mm long.
*Stigma: 2

Eleocharis elliptica - Slender Spikerush
*Life Cycle: Perennial; rhizomatous.
*Stems: 10-14 cm tall.
*Achene: yellow, honeycombed, obovoid, and 1.0-1.5 mm long.
*Scales: longer than the achene, 2-3 mm long.
*Stigma: 3

Eleocharis acicularis - Least Spikerush
*Life Cycle: Perennial; rhizomatous.
*Stems: 1-25 cm tall.
*Achene: gray, honeycombed, obovoid, and about 1.0 mm long.
*Scales: longer than the achene, 1.5-2.5 mm long.
*Stigma: 3

Eleocharis rostellata - Beaked Spikerush, SOC
*Life Cycle: Perennial; tufted.
*Stems: 10-80 cm long, erect or arching and able to root at the tip to form new plants.
*Achene: green-gray, obovoid, and 2-6 mm long.
*Scales: longer than the achene, about 2.0 mm long.
*Stigma: 3

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
WA to MT south to CA, AZ and NM (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 7

(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)

Vernally wet soil along ponds, streams; valleys to montane (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Delicate Spikerush"
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Citation for data on this website:
Delicate Spikerush — Eleocharis bella.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from