Spike Rushes - Eleocharis spp

Despite their name and appearance, Spike Rushes are a type of sedge (Cyperaceae). With their (usually) cylindrical stems they certainly look more like rushes than sedges to the untrained eye. They are easy to distinguish from rushes though by their spear head shaped terminal spikelets. Like all sedges, the easiest way to identify them to species level is to wait until their 'seeds' (technically fruit) are formed and match them in a good field guide such as the Colour Identification Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and north-western Europe by Francis Rose, or if you are feeling strong, you may choose to open the Field Flora of the British Isles by Clive Stace. They are plants of wet habitats.

Common Spike Rush Eleocharis palustris: called Scirpe des marais in French (='Marsh Rush Sedge'), this species grows to 60 cm tall, with stems that are up to 4 mm in diameter, and terminal spikelets 5 - 20 mm long. It is a widespread and common species occuring in fens, marshes, wet meadows, ditches and pond edges, favouring less acidic areas. It flowers from May to July and fruit will be formed from June. The photos below were taken in June in the draw down zone of the Etang de Ribaloche in the Foret de Preuilly.

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