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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Tufted Club-rush - Trichophorum cespitosum
Other Names:  Scirpus cespitosus, Trichophorum caespitosum

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S2
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
CCVI: Moderately Vulnerable
C-value: 8

Agency Status
USFS: Species of Conservation Concern in Forests (FLAT)


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, where it is currently documented from over a dozen fens and wet meadows in the mountainous portion of western Montana.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Tufted Club-rush (Trichophorum cespitosum) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 10/25/2012
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score1 - Moderate: Generally 10,000-100,000 individuals.

    Range Extent

    Score1 - Peripheral, Disjunct or Sporadic Distribution in MT: Widespread species that is peripheral, disjunct or sporadically distributed within MT such that it occurs in <5% of the state (<7,500 sq. miles or the combined area of Beaverhead and Ravalli Counties) or is restricted to 4-5 sub-basins.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score1 - Moderate: Generally occurring in 11-25 Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s).

    Environmental Specificity

    Score2 - High: Species is restricted to a highly specialized and limited habitat and is typically dependent upon unaltered, high-quality habitat (C Values of 8-10).


    Score0-1 - Stable to Minor Declines:

    CommentTrends unknown, though populations are likely stable or experiencing only minor declines.


    Score0-1 - Low to Medium.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score0-1 - Low to Moderate Vulnerability.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 5 to 8 total points scored out of a possible 19.

General Description
Plants forming large hemispheric tussocks. Stems terete, 10–40 cm, densely clustered. Leaf blades reduced to scales at the base, often with 1 short blade on the lower stem, 1 mm or less wide. Spikelet 3–6 mm long with 2 to 4 flowers; awn of lowest bract barely longer than the spikelet. Scales 3–4 mm long, glabrous, brown, apiculate. Flowers: bristles 6, brown, barely exceeding the scale awn. Achene ca. 1.5 mm long (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Mature fruit in July-August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Trichophorum cespitosum could easily be mistaken for a species of Eleocharis; however, the former has spikelets subtended by a short-awned scale, whereas the latter do not. It resembles T. alpinum except for its smooth, round stems, and resembles T. pumilum except that it forms large, distinctive tussocks and has perianth bristles.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Circumboreal south to OR, ID, UT and MT (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 50

(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)

Wet meadows and sphagnum-dominated fens in the montane to alpine zones.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

Threats or Limiting Factors
Threat impact not assigned because threats are not known (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • 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. 1991. The Rare Vascular Plants of Pine Butte Swamp Preserve. Unpublished Report to the Nature Conservancy. 15 Pp.
    • Lesica, P. 1992. Monitoring the Scirpus cespitosis - Scirpus acutus ecotone at Pine Butte Swamp Preserve. The Nature Conservancy, Montana Field Office, Helena, Montana. 9 pp.
    • 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
Tufted Club-rush — Trichophorum cespitosum.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from