E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Eriophorum chamissonis C.A. Mey.
Chamisso's cotton-grass (Chamisso’s cotton-grass)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #16993)

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Distribution of Eriophorum chamissonis
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from creeping rhizomes or stolons, extensively colonial; stem 20-75 cm tall.
Basal sheaths brown to purplish-brown, cross-wrinkled, persistent, not or only somewhat expanded upwards, the uppermost sheaths usually bladeless; stem leaves few, usually 1 to 3, located below the middle of the stems, mostly borne near the bases, rarely one above; blades 0.4-2 mm wide, short to elongate, thread-like, folded throughout or triangular in cross-section.
Spikes solitary, terminal, erect, at least some of them pendulous, appearing broad-based, egg-shaped-cylindrical and 1.5-2 cm long in flower, globe-shaped and 2-4 cm long in fruit; anthers mostly 1-3 (3.2) mm long; involucral bracts lacking.
Scales blackish to greyish, the middle scales lanceolate or broadly lanceolate, appressed to ascending, the midribs not reaching the tips, more or less long and sharp-pointed or blunt, with narrow, pale margins or broad translucent margins, the sterile sc
Two, sometimes difficult to separate, varieties occur in BC:

1. Perianth bristles rust-coloured; plants stout, the stems over 1.5 mm wide at the bases; middle scales lanceolate, more or less long-pointed, with narrow, pale margins...................... var. chamissonis.

1. Perianth bristles white to tawny; plants slender, the stems less than 1.5 mm wide at the bases; middle scales broadly lanceolate, blunt, with broad translucent margins..................... var. albidum (Nyl.) Fern.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Bogs, streambanks, lakeshores and wet meadows in all vegetation zones; var. chamissonis – common throughout BC; var. albidum – infrequent in N BC, rare S to 51°N east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to WI, MN, ND, CO and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Eriophorum chamissonis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 15 998 2085
Slope Gradient (%) 0 2 50
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
24 57 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 6 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(1), BAFA(3), BWBS(5), CDF(1), CWH(35), ESSF(24), ICH(20), IDF(2), MS(13), SBPS(3), SBS(43), SWB(3)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Eriophorum chamissonis var. aquatile (Norman) Fernald
Eriophorum russeolum Fr. ex Hartm.
Eriophorum russeolum subsp. rufescens (E.S. Anderson) Hyl., nom. inq.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References