Rhynchospora alba (L.) Vahl
white beak-rush (white beaksedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Bryan Kelly-McArthur     (Photo ID #85630)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Rhynchospora alba
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

Perennial, densely tufted herb from fibrous roots; stems slender, more or less solid, triangular in cross-section, usually longer than the leaves, (8) 15-50 cm tall.
Sheaths straw-coloured, more or less persistent, closed; blades several, on the stem, the lowest more or less reduced, often to mere scales, the others slender and elongate, folded or triangular in cross-section to thick and flat, 0.3-1 mm wide.
Inflorescence of 1 to 3, compact, axillary or terminal heads, mostly 5-15 mm wide, the terminal head larger than the others, each head with several to many spikes, the spikes white, becoming pale brown, often with a whitish or pinkish tinge, mostly 3.5-5 mm long, 2- to 3-flowered; involucral bracts longer or shorter than the inflorescence, 0.5-6 cm long.
Scales egg-shaped or lanceolate, pale brown, translucent on the margins, spirally arranged within the spikes; perianth bristles 10 to 12, well-developed, minutely finely barbed backwards, surpassing the achene bodies and sometimes also the tubercles; achenes lens-shaped, 1.5-2.5 mm long; broadest above the middle, tapering to narrow, nearly stalked bases, capped by elongate, narrow awl-like tubercles, about 1/3 to 1/2 as long as the achenes.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


Ecological Framework for Rhynchospora alba

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)
278 10 1529
Slope Gradient (%)
5 0 45

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

357 2 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
6 1 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

BWBS(5), CDF(9), CWH(123), ESSF(3), ICH(9), MH(2), SBS(4)

Habitat and Range

Bogs and fens in the lowland and montane zones; frequent in and W of the Coast-Cascade Mountains in BC south of 56degreeN, rare in SC BC; circumpolar, N to SW AK, E to NF and S to ME, MA, NC, IN, IL, MN, ID and CA; West Indies, Eurasia.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Rhynchospora luquillensis Britt.