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

Eriophorum vaginatum L.
Tussock Cottongrass (sheathed cotton-grass)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Vince Poulin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #66263)

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Distribution of Eriophorum vaginatum
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Eriophorum vaginatum ssp. vaginatum

Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb forming tussocks; stems 10-60 cm tall.
Basal sheaths brownish, cross-wrinkled, persistent; stem leaves 1 to 3, the sheaths conspicuously expanded upwards; blades 0.5-1.2 mm wide, folded.
Spikes solitary, terminal, erect, egg-shaped to nearly globe-shaped and 1-2 cm long in flower, nearly globe-shaped and 1.7-4 cm long in fruit; anthers 1-2 mm long; involucral bracts lacking.
Scales greyish to blackish, with broad pale margins, narrowly egg-shaped to long-pointed, appressed to ascending, gradually tapering near the tips, the midribs not reaching the tips, at least the lower ones reflexed, the sterile scales mostly 10 or more; perianth bristles numerous, whitish, many times longer than the achenes; achenes 1.9-2.8 mm, (3.5) mm long, not fringed with small serrated teeth.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Bogs, marshes and wet meadows in the montane to alpine zones; rare N of 52degreeN in BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT and E to SK; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Eriophorum vaginatum

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) 365 791 1660
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 1
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 294 230
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 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: BWBS(8), ESSF(2), ICH(1), IDF(1), SBS(4)


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.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References