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Scirpus cyperinus (Woolgrass)
Brundage, Stephanie

Scirpus cyperinus

Scirpus cyperinus (L.) Kunth

Woolgrass, Cottongrass Bulrush, Marsh Bulrush, Teddybear Paws

Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)

Synonym(s): Scirpus cyperinus var. condensatus, Scirpus cyperinus var. eriophorum, Scirpus cyperinus var. laxus, Scirpus cyperinus var. pelius, Scirpus cyperinus var. rubricosus, Scirpus eriophorum, Scirpus rubricosus


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

Cottongrass Bulrush or Woolgrass is a densely-tufted, clump-forming perennial, 3-6 ft. high, with an erect stem that is leafy up to the flower cluster. Many brown, woolly bristles surround the nutlets giving the cluster of spikelets in the terminal inflorescence a fuzzy appearance. A compound umbel, made up of many spikelets on branching rays, is at the top of a triangular or nearly round stem and is surrounded by spreading green, leaflike bracts; spikelets wooly in fruit.

This is one of several important species of wetland plants, many of them emergents, that provide food and cover for waterfowl and other wildlife. Nearly 30 species of Scirpus occur in eastern North America.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers in 6 to 12 inch clusters
Fruit: Brown to Yellow-brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
Canada: BC , NB , NL , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Nf. to Sask., s. to FL & e. TX
Native Habitat: Wet meadows & swamps

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Aquatic: yes
Soil Description: Wet soil to standing water.


Use Ornamental: The unusual flowers are attractive in moist gardens.
Use Wildlife: Seeds eaten by waterfowl. Roots eaten by muskrats and geese. Provides cover for nesting birds.
Use Other: Good for erosion control when planted en masse. Bulrush forms a buffer against wind and wave action, thus permitting other aquatic plants to grow in an otherwise unfavorable environment.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Dion Skipper
(Euphyes dion)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Root Division
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Scirpus cyperinus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Scirpus cyperinus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Scirpus cyperinus


Record Modified: 2023-02-27
Research By: TWC Staff

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