Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Horsetail Spikerush - Eleocharis equisetoides   (Elliott) Torrey
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Eleocharis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Cyperaceae
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Author(Elliott) Torrey
DistributionLower Piedmont, Sandhills, and mainly the southern Coastal Plain. Largely absent from the northern Coastal Plain.

MA to southern Ont. and WI, south to FL and TX; disjunct in CA.
AbundanceUncommon to infrequent. Very rare in the northern Coastal Plain. However, plants are usually common or abundant where found. This is a Watch List species, but this designation could perhaps be dropped as this species appears to be secure in NC.
HabitatShallow water of ponds, lake margins, reservoirs, quarry pools, borrow pits.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-September.
IdentificationAlong with E. quadrangulata, this is our most robust spikerush, normally 2-3 feet tall. It differs from that species in its rounded stem in cross-section (vs. 4-sided). It differs from E. cellulosa by its size and cross-septate stems (vs. non-septate).
Taxonomic CommentsNone

The genus Eleocharis, the spikerushes, are unusual members of the sedge family in that the culms (flowering stems) are round or oval (rarely triangular) in cross-section, rather than triangular in the great majority of our sedges. In addition, leaf blades are absent; just 1-2 basal sheaths are present at the base of the culm. There is a single, cylindrical or narrowly ovoid, spikelet of florets at the culm summit. Details of achene (seed) shape, color, ornamentation, bristle length, and beak (tubercle) shape and size, are critical ID factors.
Other Common Name(s)Jointed Spikesedge
State RankS3
Global RankG4
State StatusW1
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empOBL link
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B.A. SorrieCumberland County, 2019, Fort Bragg, small pond in area of former gravel ops, terrace of Little River. CumberlandPhoto_natural
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