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 Symbol: sccy
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers in 6 to 12 inch clusters
Fruit: Brown to Yellow-brown
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Wet soil to standing water.
BenefitUse 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
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Dion Skipper |
Learn more at BAMONA
PropagationPropagation 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording 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
BibliographyBibref 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 ReferenceWebref 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
Research LiteratureReslit 137 - Seed bank response to wet heat and the vegetation structure of a Virginia pocosin (2007) J. F. Bolin
Reslit 53 - Primary Productivity in 20-year Old Created Wetlands in Southwestern Virginia (2010) R. B. Atkinson, J. E. Perry, G. B. Noe, W. L. Dani...
Reslit 52 - Plant decomposition and litter accumulation in depressional wetlands: Functional performance of two wetland age classes that were created via excavation (2001) R. B. Atkinson and J. Cairns
Reslit 337 - Growth of woolgrass in acid mine drainage (1999) M. Demchik and K. Garbutt
Reslit 709 - An Analysis of a Woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus) Community in Wisconsin (1958) J. A. Kadlec
Reslit 710 - A Further Comment on Ecology of Woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus) (1961) J. A. Kadlec
Reslit 724 - Differential nitrogen and phosphorus retention by five wetland plant species (2003) J. T. Kao, J. E. Titus and W. X. Zhu
Reslit 1509 - Selected Ecological Characteristics of Scirpus cyperinus and Its Role as an Invader of Disturbed Wetlands (1985) D. A. Wilcox, N. B. Pavlovic and M. L. Mueggler
This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Scirpus cyperinus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Scirpus cyperinus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Scirpus cyperinus
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-02-27
Research By: TWC Staff