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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)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
C-value: 8

Agency Status


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 et al. 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
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Phillips County. AB to QC south to CA, ID, WY, OK and NY (Lesica et al. 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.
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?
    • 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. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Slender Bulrush"
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Citation for data on this website:
Slender Bulrush — Schoenoplectus heterochaetus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from