Habit: rhizomatous wetland sedge with upright oval stems when cross-sectioned. Height is dependent on the depth of water in the growing environment, as it will continue to grow to keep the heads out of the water if the water rises slowly. Leaves are reduced to the reddish purple sheaths clustered at the base of the stems, making the plant appear leafless. A solitary spikelet appears on the stem terminally and is small, brown and egg shaped. Plants typically flower from June through September. The seeds ripen in late August to October. Seeds are held tightly in the seed head for a long period of time.
Ecology: widespread across Canada and the States at low to mid elevations, found in riparian zones, wetlands, moist meadows, and shallow water, can also be found in salt marshes and on shorelines.
Growing Conditions: partial shade, coarse to fine soil that is wet to moist and high in nutrients. It can grow in fluctuating flood conditions where the water is up to 3 ft (1 m) deep for most of the growing season.
Eleocharis palustris’ dense root mass makes it an excellent choice for shore stabilization. It can fix atmospheric nitrogen and make it available to other plants in the wetland community.