Schoenoplectus acutus var. acutus




Scirpus acutus var. acutus, Scirpus lacustris (4)


Common name

hardstem bulrush 



Throughout western North America (4)


 Climate, elevation

Wetlands, low to mid elevations (6).


 Local occurrence (where, how common)

 Locally abundant in perennially wet areas (3).


Habitat preferences

Marshes, muddy shores, shallow water (fresh and brackish) at low to mid elevations (3, 6).


 Plant strategy

Germinates and establishes best in moist bare soil.  Wetland obligate and dominant species in wetland environments (2).


 Associated species

Sedges, rushes, cattails.


 May be collected as:

Seed, rhizomes (1). 


Collection restrictions or guidelines

Seeds mature in late August through September.  Because they are easily dispersed by wind, it is important to collect seeds close to time of maturity.

 Seeds need to be cleaned and separated from the panicle (1). 


Seed germination

Germination rate increases with cold stratification of 2ºC for 30-75 days.  Prewashing with 10% acid solution prior to a 75 day cold stratification has also been tried (1). 


Propagation recommendations

 Plants can be propagated with either seeds or rhizomes (5).  Seeds require light for germination.  Press in lightly to assure good soil contact, but do not cover the seed.  Soil should be kept moist until plants are transplanted.  Germination should begin within 7-10 days (1).


Soil or medium requirements

Fine to medium textured soil (4). 


Installation form (form, potential for successful outcomes, cost)

 Rhizomes (most common), seedlings, or direct seed.


Care requirements after installed (water weekly, water once etc.) 

Soil must be kept moist.  It is suggested to plant only in wetlands.  If wetland is seasonally wet, and plants are small at time of installment, monitor soil moisture and water as needed.


 Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan

 Moderate growth rate; long lifespan (4).


Sources cited

  1. Hoag, J.C. 1998. Plant Fact Sheet: Scirpus acutus (hardstem bulrush). USDA-NRCS Aberdeen Plant Materials Center, Aberdeen, ID. Aug. 1998. 3p. (22 KB) (ID# 1063)
  3. Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast-Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. B.C. Ministry of Forest and Lone Pine Publishing. 1994
  4.   USDA Plant Database.  “Schoenoplectus acutus var. acutus”
  5. Water Quality Program, Washington State Department of Ecology.  “Scirpus acutus”.
  6. Environmental Services, Washington Department of Transportation.  “Scirpus acutus”


Data compiled by Sacha Johnson (5/19/2004)