Page author: Don Knoke
Eriophorum gracile
slender cottongrass

Distribution: Alaska, Canada and the northern half on the United States

Habitat: Wet places, mid- to high elevation in the mountains

Flowers: May - August

Origin: Native

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Herbaceous perennial, the slender culms 2-6 dm. tall, arising singly from slender rhizomes.


Leaves basal and cauline, the blades elongate and narrow, usually under 2 mm. wide, the outer half deeply channeled; sheathes closed; uppermost culm leaf with blade shorter than the well-developed sheath.


Spikelets 2-5 in a terminal inflorescence, pedunculate in an umbel, the peduncles slender, sub-terete; umbel subtended by several involucral bracts, but only one of them green and foliaceous; scales subtending the flowers blackish-green to greenish-brown; perianth consisting of numerous, white, capillary bristles 2-4 cm. long; stamens 3; style trifid.


Achenes light brown, 2.5-3.5 mm. long, narrowly oblanceolate.

Accepted Name:
Eriophorum gracile W.D.J. Koch ex Roth
Publication: Catal. Bot. 2: 259. 1800. 1800.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Eriophorum gracile W.D.J. Koch var. caurianum Fernald [KZ99]
Eriophorum gracile W.D.J. Koch var. gracile [KZ99]
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Eriophorum gracile in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Eriophorum gracile checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Eriophorum gracile atlas page.

CalPhotos: Eriophorum gracile photos.

USDA Plants: Eriophorum gracile information.

21 photographs:
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