Page author: Don Knoke
Scirpus pallidus
pale bulrush

Distribution: Southest Washington and northeast Oregon, east to Utah, Minnisota and Texas.

Habitat: Wet, low ground, from the lowlands to moderate elevations in the mountains.

Flowers: June - August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Review Group 1 in Washington (WANHP)


Coarse, herbaceous perennials from short, stout rhizomes, the stems loosely clustered, triangular, 6-15 dm. tall.


Stem leaves several, the blades flat, grass-like, 6-15 mm. wide and up to several dm. long, the sheaths greenish or pale.


Inflorescence a simple or compound terminal cyme, with very numerous, sessile spikelets 3-4 mm. long, in dense, often compound clusters that are at least 1 cm. thick; inflorescence subtended by several unequal, sheathless bracts, the largest of these about 1 dm. long; flowers subtended by translucent, greenish-black scales with a thickened, greenish or brownish midrib which is exerted as an awn 0.5 mm. long; perianth bristles usually 6, slender, no longer than the achene; stamens 3; style trifid.


Achenes unequally triangular, 1.0-1.2 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Scirpus pallidus (Britton) Fernald
Publication: Rhodora. 8: 163. 1906. 1906.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Scirpus atrovirens Willd. var. pallidus Britton
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Scirpus pallidus in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Scirpus pallidus checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Scirpus pallidus atlas page.

CalPhotos: Scirpus pallidus photos.

USDA Plants: Scirpus pallidus information.

21 photographs:
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