Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Slender Spikerush - Eleocharis elliptica
Other Names:  Eleocharis tenuis, Eleocharis compressa [in part]

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3S4
C-value: 6

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
Rhizomatous perennial. Stems erect, 10–40 cm with purple sheaths, tufted. Spikelet 3–8 mm long with 10 to 30 flowers. Scales 2–3 mm long, brown to purple with hyaline margins, the lowest larger, sterile, rounded. Flowers: bristles absent or reduced; stigmas 3. Achenes yellow, honeycombed, obovate, 1–1.5 mm long; tubercle triangular, 0.1–0.2 mm long (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Lesica (2012) treats this species as Eleocharis tenuis (Willd.) Schult. variety borealis (Svenson) Gleason

Diagnostic Characteristics
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 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 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 - Least 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

Range Comments
BC to QC south to 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: 58

(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)

Fens, moist alkaline meadows around ponds, streams; valleys, montane (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • 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.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Slender Spikerush"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Slender Spikerush — Eleocharis elliptica.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from