Eleocharis nitida Fern.
Species Image Gallery
(opens in a new window)
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Eleocharis
Species Synonyms: none
Common Names: quill spikerush
neat spike-rush
Canada: British Columbia – southwestern Alberta, northeastern Saskatchewan – Ontario – Newfoundland – Nova Scotia
Saskatchewan: northeastern Saskatchewan; Stony Rapids – Wollaston Lake – Pasquia Hills
Ecoregion: Boreal Transition, Churchill River Upland, Athabasca Plain, Tazin Lake Upland
Saskatchewan: moist shores, pond edges, wet depressions, and fens
Associated Species: black spruce, fowl mannagrass, golden sedge, horsetails, jack pine, ticklegrass
Provincial Status According
to Harms (2003):
Nature Conservancy Status:
G3G4 S2
Saskatchewan Species at
Risk Status:
Quill spikerush is threatened in Saskatchewan because it is rare or uncommon and most local populations are small. No immediate threats are known or anticipated for this species.
Height: 2 – 15 cm
Roots: rhizome, 0.3 – 0.5 mm thick, hard, scales membranous to papery or fibrous
Stems: perennial, mat-forming, 4-angled, hair-like
Leaves: blade bearing leaves absent; bladeless sheaths straw-coloured to reddish at top, lower part greenish or straw-coloured, membranous, tip often red and entire
Inflorescence: spikelet terminal, solitary, erect
Spikelets: 1 – 4 mm long, ovoid; scales spreading in fruit, 5 – 30, 8 per mm of spikelet axis, oval, tip rounded and entire, medium to dark brown, midrib pale or greenish
Flowers: perianth bristles absent; stamens 3, anthers yellow; styles 3-branched
Achenes: achenes persistent after scales fall, three-angled, angles evident, dark yellow-orange or brown; swellings at base of style brown, greatly depressed, not well-developed
1 Achenes with 9 – 13 longitudinal rows of horizontal ridges between prominent longitudinal ridges and achene angles; spikelets with lowest scale always subtending a flower; stems to 1.5 mm wide
E. acicularis
1 Achenes without long rows of horizontal ridges; lowest scale subtending a flower or empty; stems to 5 mm wide
2 Swelling at tip of achene conical, confluent with achene; stigmas 3
2 Swelling at tip of achene well-differentiated; stigmas 2 or 3
3 Spikelets to 3 mm long, internodes equal in thickness and length throughout the spikelet; scales 5 – 500 per spikelet, green or pale brown; stems < 10 cm tall; rhizome lacking a bulb
E. parvula
3 Spikelets to 7 mm long, proximal internodes thicker and shorter than internodes in the middle of the spikelet; scales 4 – 12 per spikelet, tinged with purple or brown; stems to 40 cm tall; rhizomes bulbous
E. quinquefolia
4 Styles 2-fid; achenes convex
4 Styles 3-fid; achenes three-sided
5 Tufted annuals, roots fibrous; achenes green, straw-coloured, or black; anthers 0.2 – 1 mm long
E. engelmannii
5 Perennials with rhizomes or runners; achenes yellow to dark brown; anthers 1 – 2.5 mm long
6 Tip of uppermost leaf sheath with distinct tooth on all or some stems; base of spikelet with single empty scale nearly enclosing stem
E. erythropoda
6 Tip of distal leaf sheath without distinct tooth on all stems; base of spikelet with 2 or 3 firm, empty scales
E. palustris
7 Achenes biconvex (or < 1/3 of achenes trigonous); tufted annuals; spikelets never proliferous
E. engelmannii
7 Achenes trigonous; annuals or perennials, rhizomatous or stoloniferous; spikelets may be proliferous
8 Achene surface honey-comb netted; swelling at tip of achene broader than high; stems to 90 cm tall
E. elliptica
8 Achene surface minutely wrinkled or roughened but not netted; swelling at tip of achene longer than broad; stems to 40 cm tall
9 Spikelets < 5 mm long; stems 4-angled and capillary
E. nitida
9 Spikelets to greater than 1 cm long; stems flat and wiry
E. compressa