Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bald Spikerush - Eleocharis erythropoda   Steudel
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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DistributionMountains only. Two collections known: freshwater marsh near New River (Ashe County); marsh by French Broad River (Madison County). A third record is from Macon County, but specimens need critical identification at IND and NO. A specimen from Carteret County at DUKE is misidentified.

N.S. and AK south to NC, TX, AZ, and OR.
AbundanceVery rare in the northern mountains, and not known elsewhere. Not even sure the species is still to be considered extant in the state. This species definitely deserves to be tracked as Significantly Rare, instead of just being a Watch List species.
HabitatFreshwater marshes associated with river floodplains. The species generally is a calciphile; thus, it likely has quite limited habitat in NC.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July to September.
IdentificationThis is one of several NC spikerushes with red-purple bases to plants. All of them must be keyed out with care. From E. palustris, it is told by the presence of a distinct tooth at the tip of a leaf sheath (vs. none). Eleocharis halophila and E. ambigens occur only on the outer Coastal Plain tidewater region.
Taxonomic CommentsIn older literature often called E. calva, an illegitimate name.

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)Creeping Spikerush (a name used by other species)
State RankS1
Global RankG5
State StatusW7 [SR]
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1985, Becket, MA. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
B.A. SorriePhoto taken July 2020, McGee Fen, Glacier NP, MT. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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