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

Eleocharis parvula (Roem. & Schult.) Link ex Bluff, Nees & Schauer
small spike-rush (dwarf spikerush)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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Distribution of Eleocharis parvula
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from inconspicuous, slender rhizomes, forming dense mats; stems thread-like, erect to ascending, 2-6 (10) cm tall.
Sheaths pale, sometimes purplish below; blades lacking.
Spikes solitary, terminal, 2-4.5 (6) mm long, 2- to 9- (20-) flowered, egg-shaped.
Scales 1.5-2 (2.5) mm long, the lowest one empty, not subtending the flowers, egg-shaped, blunt or sharp-pointed, green to straw-coloured or brown; perianth bristles 3 to 5, equalling or surpassing the achenes, rarely reduced or lacking; stigmas 3; achenes egg-shaped, more or less 3-angled, straw-coloured, smooth and shining, 0.9-1.3 mm long including the short, inconspicuous tubercles, which are 0.15-0.3 mm long, nosecone-like and not forming apical caps on the achenes.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Salt marshes, mudflats and sandy shores along the coast; rare on S Vancouver Island, the Queen Charlotte Islands, and in the lower mainland; circumpolar, E to NF and S to FL, MS, TX, NM, AZ, CA and MX, Atlantic Coast; Europe.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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

Chaetocyperus membranacea Buckl.
Eleocharis leptos (Steud.) Svens.
Eleocharis leptos var. coloradoensis (Britt.) Svens.
Eleocharis leptos var. johnstonii Svens.
Eleocharis membranacea (Buckl.) Gilly
Eleocharis parvula var. anachaeta (Britton) Svens.
Eleocharis parvula var. coloradoensis (Britton) Beetle
Eleocharis parvula var. parvula
Scirpus nanus Spreng.
Scirpus nanus var. anachaetus (Torr.) Britt.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References