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

Schoenoplectus americanus (Pers.) Volkart ex Schinz & R. Keller
Olney's bulrush (chairmaker's bulrush)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Frank Lomer  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #90005)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Schoenoplectus americanus
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from long rhizomes; stems sharply triangular in cross-section with concave sides, when growing in water, stiff and emergent most of their lengths, 40-250 cm tall.
Few, basal, less than 1/2 the length of the stems; sheath orifice often splitting; blades 1 to 3, V-shaped near the base and triangular to asymmetrically flattened on the sides near the tips, smooth or the angles more or less rough near the tips, 2-8 mm wide, 25-200 cm long.
Spikes 2 to 15, terminal, unstalked, 5-15 mm long, 3-5 mm wide in unstalked, headlike clusters; involucral bracts solitary, leaflike, erect or nearly so, resembling an extension of the stem, (1) 3-20 cm long.
Scales bright orange- to red- or purplish-brown or often straw-coloured, with numerous, short, linear marks, 2.7-4 mm long, broadly egg-shaped, smooth or the awns sparsely minutely-spined, deciduously fringed with small hairs, the midribs prominent, mostly paler, the tips awned, rounded to pointed, cleft, the clefts 0.1-0.4 mm deep, the awns somewhat bent, 0.2-0.6 mm long; perianth bristles (2) 5 to 6 (7), orange-brown, minutely spined backwards, slender to stout, about 1/2 as long to equalling the achenes; achenes brown, smooth, glossy, thickly plano-convex or unequally biconvex, or 3-angled, the angles rounded, 1.8-2.5 mm long, the beaks 0.1-0.3 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Saline or alkaline marshes and wet meadows in the lowland and montane zones; rare in SW BC; disjunct E to NS and S to MA, NC, FL, MS, TX, NM, AZ and CA; S America.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Schoenoplectus americanus

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) 1 1 2
Slope Gradient (%) 0 1 5
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
270 270 270
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 5 5
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: CDF(5)


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

Scirpus americanus Pers.
Scirpus chilensis Nees & Meyen ex Kunth
Scirpus conglomeratus Kunth
Scirpus olneyi A. Gray
Scirpus pungens var. longisetus Benth. & F. Muell.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References