Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Eleocharis palustris (Common spikerush)
Smith, R.W.

Eleocharis palustris

Eleocharis palustris (L.) Roem. & Schult.

Common Spikerush, Common Spike-rush, Creeping Spikesedge

Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)


USDA Symbol: elpa3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), HI (I?), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

The culms of this grass-like, clumped perennial are 4-40 in. tall and are covered, on the lower part, with a reddish-purple sheath. The small, terminal, cylindrical spike is many-flowered and light green to dark brown. This is a rhizomatous plant that will eventually fill in large areas.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Spikelet , Terminal
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 40 inches tall.
Leaf: Dark Green
Fruit: Dark yellow or brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Perianth absent. Bloom time denotes fruiting period for Eleocharis spp.


USA: AK , AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Temperate & cold-temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere
Native Habitat: Wet places from sea level to moderate mt. elevations

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist to wet, often alkaline, soils.
Conditions Comments: Excellent for shore stabilization. This is a complex of great variability, with numerous, fairly unsuccessful attempts at subdivision. *In the East, E. smallii is sometimes used and includes the plants of E. palustris.


Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed 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:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-08
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back