Common Spike-rush

Common Spike-rush

Common Spike-rush - Eleocharis palustris

This is a common marshland plant with a long, creeping, underground rhizome from which grow cylindrical, erect, spongy, leafless stems reaching up to sixty centimetres in height, with brownish sheathes at the base.

At the tip of each small stem is a single tiny dark brown spike, five to twenty millimetres long. The base of the little spike is half wrapped by the lower bract.

The Common Spike-rush flowers from May to August. It grows in shallow waters which normally do not flood the base of the plant, but it can tolerate considerable variations in water level.

It occurs in all the Italian wetlands along ditches and in wet meadows, but it is quite rare everywhere.

At the Fucecchio Marshess it forms substantial thickets at the edges of pools and in areas free from cane beds and Amorpha fruticosa, although it seems to be in gradual decline.

In the marshes surrounding Lake Sibolla grows the Slender Spike-rush Eleocharis uniglumis, a very similar species but which differs from the Common Spike-rush in the shape of the bract which completely surrounds the base of the spike.