Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Eriophorum vaginatum var. spissum L. (Fern.)
CYPERACEAE (Sedge Family)
EtymologyEriophorum means wool-bearing, from the Greek: erion = wool + phoreo = to carry, bring.
Synonyms (Common Name)Hare's Tail
DescriptionTussock cotton grass is not a grass, but is a perennial sedge. It grows 1-2' tall and forms clumps, or tussocks, with grass-like leaves that are clustered at the base. Tussock cotton grass bears a single, fluffy white spikelet on a triangular stem.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Height1-2 feet
LeavesClustered at base, very narrow; stem leaves are bladeless sheaths; lacks leafy bract.
Flower/InflorescenceConspicuous: single spikelet is cottony, white (seldom reddish or brownish), large (to 1"); with blackish scales and numerous long, silky bristles.
FruitAchene, egg-shaped, brown, subtended by long, silky, white bristles.
Fruiting PeriodMay-July.
HabitatBogs and open conifer swamps.
RangeNewfoundland to Alaska; south to Pennsylvania and Indiana.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett