Alkali or seacoast bulrush (Bolboschoenus maritimus)



q       West coast of US east to Minnesota & south to Louisiana. (1)


Climate, elevation

q       Low to mid elevations. (1)


Local occurrence (where, how common)

q       Found in all six counties surrounding Puget Sound.


Habitat preferences

q       Marshes, transient wet spots, pond margins & backwater areas. (1)


Plant strategy type/successional stage (stress-tolerator, competitor, weedy/colonizer, seral, late successional)

q       Perennial, rhizomatous wetland obligate. Forms dense stands in alkaline or saline sites. (1)

q       Can occur on freshwater sites but is usually a pioneering species that will be replaced over time with more permanent species. (1)


Associated species

q       Potentilla anserina (Pacific silverweed) (3)

q       Carex lyngbyei  (Lyngbyei’s sedge) (3)


May be collected as: (seed, layered, divisions, etc.)

q       Seed & wild transplants. (1)

q       Division in spring. (2)


Collection restrictions or guidelines

q       Seeds ripen in late August to October & may be collected by stripping the seeds from the plant by hand or clipping the seed head using a pair of hand shears. A power seed harvester may also be used. (1)

q       The bracts, which are found in the seed heads, are very irritating to the skin so gloves & protective eyewear should be worn when harvesting. (1)


Seed germination (needs dormancy breaking?)

q       Germination rate may be increased by wet pre-chilling the seed in a mixture of water & sphagnum moss for 30 days. (1)


Seed life (can be stored, short shelf-life, long shelf-life)

q       Seeds can remain viable for up to 20 years if kept in a dry place at room temperature. (1)


Recommended seed storage conditions

q       Dry & at room temperature.


Propagation recommendations (plant seeds, vegetative parts, cuttings, etc.)

q       Propagation of seed under green house conditions. Planted in the field as plugs or wild transplants. (1)

q       Propagation by division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted directly on site. Smaller divisions should be kept under green house conditions & planted on site once they are well established in the summer. (2)


Soil or medium requirements (inoculums necessary?)

q       Adapted to soil textures from fine clay to silt loams to sands. (1)

q       PH up to 9.0. (1)



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

q       Seeds need light, moisture & heat for germination. Seed should be placed on soil surface (not covered) with good soil contact. Germination within 1-2 weeks. Maintain moisture until plants are transplanted. (1)

q       Planting plugs (either from the greenhouse or wild transplants) is the most successful way to establish this species. (1)

q       Wild transplants can be collected & planted directly into desired site. (1)


Recommended planting density

q       Plug spacing of 30-45 cm will fill in within one growing season. (1)


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

q       Soils should be kept saturated.  Fluctuating water levels during the first year will increase spread. (1)


Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan

q       Tends to spread & reproduce when the water table is within 10cm of the surface. Spreads by seed & rhizome growth. (1)

q       Pioneering species that is replaced over time with more permanent species. (1)


Sources cited


1.      USDA, NRCS. 1994. Interagency Riparian/Wetland Project, Wetland Plant Fact Sheet,


2.      Plants for a Future-Species Database. Last Updated: 2000.


3.      Guard, B. Jennifer. Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington. Lone Pine Publishing. Vancouver, B.C. 1995.



Data compiled by:

Cheryl Brammer 4/27/06