Scirpus acutus - Muehl. ex Bigelow. Hard Stem Bulrush

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Scirpus acutus - Muehl. ex Bigelow. Hard Stem Bulrush

Post by ThreeperMan on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 17:45

<>AuthorMuehl. ex Bigelow.
Botanical references43, 274
SynonymsSchoenoplectus acutus - (Muehl. ex Bigelow.)A. Löve.&D.Löve.

Scirpus occidentalis - (S. Watson.) Chase.

Known HazardsNone known
RangeN. America - Canada and southwards.
calcareous to brackish marshes, shores and pond margins in water up to
1 metre deep[43, 270]. Plants form extensive clumps in the wild[212].
Edibility Ratingapple iconapple iconapple icon 3 (1-5)

Medicinal Ratingapple icon 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics

icon of man
icon of perennial/biennial/annual
Perennial growing to 2m at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 0. The seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers
are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated
by Wind.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.
The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.
It requires moist or wet soil and can grow in water.


Pond; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves; Pollen; Root; Seed.

Root - raw or cooked[62, 161]. Rich in starch, it has been ground into
a powder and used with cereal flours in making bread[212]. The roots
can be boiled with water and made into a syrup[257]. The roots are
usually peeled before being eaten[257].
Pollen[62]. Rich in protein, it can be added to flour when making
bread, cakes etc.
Seed[62, 257]. Small and fiddly to utilize.
White stem bases and tender young shoots - raw or cooked[257].
Harvested in the spring[161], they are crisp and sweet[212]. New shoots
form in the autumn and make a welcome snack[212].
The inner portions of the stems can be eaten raw[257].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.
Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


The stem pith is haemostatic[257]. A poultice of the pith is placed under a dressing in order to stop the wound bleeding[257].
The roots have been chewed as a preventative to thirst[257].

Other Uses

Basketry; Paper; Weaving.

A fibre obtained from the stems is used for making paper[189]. The
fresh stems can be harvested in summer, or dried stems can be used at
any time of the year. The stems are split and cut into usable pieces,
soaked for 24 hours in clear water and then cooked for 1½ hours with
lye. The fibres are then beaten in a blender and can be used to make a
beige/brown paper[189].
The stems and leaves are used for weaving or sewing together into hats,
mats, mattresses etc[61, 189, 257]. The stems are very durable and take
a year or more to decay in the wild[212].
The stems have been used in basket making[257]. The outer surface of
the stems has been split and twisted into weft cords and warp[257].

Cultivation details

We have very little information on this species and do not know if it
will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should
succeed outdoors in most parts of this country. The following notes are
based on the general needs of the genus.
Succeeds in any wet to moisture retentive ground, pond margins and
shallow water in full sun or shade[200].


Seed - sow in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in a pot standing in
3cm of water. Only just cover the seed with soil[200]. The seed usually
germinates fairly quickly. Prick out the plants when large enough to
handle and plant out in their permanent positions in early summer.
Division in spring. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out
direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up
the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in
a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the



[43] Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. 1950
A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.

[61] Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable 1974 ISBN 0094579202
the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a
very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very
brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.

[62] Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold 1982 ISBN 0442222009
Very readable.

[161] Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. 0
A comprehensive but very terse guide. Not for the casual reader.

[189] Bell. L. A. Plant Fibres for Papermaking. Liliaceae Press 1988
good practical section on how to make paper on a small scale plus
details of about 75 species (quite a few of them tropical) that can be

[200] Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press 1992 ISBN 0-333-47494-5
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

[212] Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers The Riverside Press 1963 ISBN 63-7093
Excellent little pocket guide to the area, covering 590 species and often giving details of their uses.

[257] Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. 1998 ISBN 0-88192-453-9
comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent
bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to
further information. Not for the casual reader.

[270] Flora of N. America 0
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.

[274] Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas Botanical Research Institute, Texas. 1999 ISBN 1-889878-01-4
An excellent flora, which is also available on-line.

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