State Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S2
Hard-stemmed bulrush is an erect, grass-like perennial that grows from a spreading rhizome. The firm, round stems can reach up to 3 meters in height. Despite the common name, this species is not actually a rush, but a sedge. The leaves grow mostly near the base of the stem. Each plant has only 3 to 4 leaves, which are made up of short blades and longer sheaths. The sheaths are often red-tinged near the base. The flowers can be found in spikelets that are held in a small, branched cluster, or inflorescence. The inflorescence has stiff, upright branches and seems to be growing out of the side of the stem. This is due to a leaf-like bract that originates near the inflorescence and appears as a continuation of the stem. Plants can be found fruiting from June to August.
Imperiled in the nation or state because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the nation or state.
It grows in wetlands and can be found in the shallow water along the edges of lakes or ponds.
Fruits June - August
Hard-stemmed bulrush has a distribution throughout North America. In Pennsylvania, the occurrences are localized in the western and central counties.
Conservation of hard-stemmed bulrush will require protection of known populations and of their wetland habitat. This may require consideration of the entire pond or lake community. Surrounding these communities with buffers could help to protect them from the effects of runoff or flooding. Sustaining appropriate water levels will also be important for maintaining high quality habitats.
Conservation Status Map
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.
- NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
- Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
- Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
- 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.