Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Eriophorum virginicum L.
CYPERACEAE (Sedge Family)
EtymologyEriophorum means wool-bearing, from the Greek: erion = wool + phoreo = to carry, bring; virginicum is Latin for from or of Virginia, in reference to The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth 1 of England (1533-1603).
Synonyms (Common Name)Bog Cotton, Virginia Cotton Grass
DescriptionTawny cotton grass, despite its name, is a perennial sedge with a triangular stem. It grows to 3' tall in southern New England peatlands. Tawny cotton grass has 2-3 spikelets that look like fluff-balls; they are whitish to beige to light copper when mature. A colony of cotton grass looks like a field of cotton puffs.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Heightto 3 feet
LeavesLong, flat, narrow (less than1/4" wide); 2-3 unequal, long (to 5"), leafy bracts clustered under and longer than the spikelets.
Flower/InflorescenceConspicuous: 2-3 large, densely-tufted, cottony spikelets, large (1-1 5/8" wide); beige to light copper when mature, sometimes white; with brown to coppery scales and numerous long, soft, bristles.
FruitAchene, triangular, brown, subtended by long, silky, bristles.
Fruiting PeriodJuly-October.
HabitatBogs, fens, swamps, wet meadows.
RangeNewfoundland to Manitoba and Minnesota; south to Kentucky and Florida.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett