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S. Galen Smith, except as noted

Annual, perennial herb, often rhizomed or stoloned, often of wet open places; roots fibrous; monoecious, dioecious, or flowers bisexual. Stem: generally 3-sided, generally solid. Leaf: generally 3-ranked; base sheathing, sheath generally closed, ligule generally 0; blade (0 or) linear, parallel-veined. Inflorescence: spikelets generally arranged in head-, spike-, raceme-, or panicle-like inflorescences; flower generally sessile in axil of flower bract, enclosed in a sac-like structure (perigynium) or generally not. Flower: unisexual or bisexual, small, generally wind-pollinated; perianth 0 or generally bristle like; stamens generally 3, anthers attached at base, 4 chambered; ovary superior, chamber 1, ovule 1, style 2–3-branched. Fruit: achene, 2–3 sided.
± 100 genera, 5000 species: especially temperate. [Gilmour et al. 2013 Kew Bull 68:85–105] Difficult; taxa differ in technical characters of inflorescence, fruit. In Carex and Kobresia, what appear to be individual pistillate flowers in fact are highly reduced inflorescences (whether or not the same applies to staminate flowers is still under debate). In some other works (e.g., FNANM) these are called spikelets, and they are treated as being arranged in spikes. Here and in TJM (1993), what appear to be individual pistillate flowers are called pistillate flowers in Carex (and they are treated as being arranged in spikelets), but spikelets in Kobresia (and they are treated as being arranged into spikes). Though internally inconsistent, the approach here is consistent with traditional usage, and reflects a preference for character states that may be determined in the field. Molecular, morphological, and embryological evidence indicates that Eriophorum crinigerum is to be segregated to a new genus, as Calliscirpus criniger (A. Gray) C.N. Gilmour et al., along with a second, newly described species, Calliscirpus brachythrix C.N. Gilmour et al. (Gilmour et al. 2013); key to genera modified by Peter W. Ball to include Calliscirpus. —Scientific Editors: S. Galen Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Unabridged references: [Ball et al. 2002 FNANM 23:1–608; Bruhl 1995 Australian Syst Bot 8:125–305; Tucker 1987 J Arnold Arbor 68:361–445;]

Key to Cyperaceae

Generally perennial herb, generally erect, generally with long, scaly rhizomes; stem, leaf generally with air cavities. Stem: simple, smooth, (wiry). Leaf: generally all basal, whorled or 3-ranked; blade generally present, at least on distal sheath, smooth, or margin minute-scabrous; sheath closed, long; ligule glabrous. Inflorescence: terminal, branch stems often scabrous, main inflorescence bract like leaf blade; spikelets ovate, not ± flat, many-flowered; flower bracts spiraled, each with 1 flower in axil, ovate, 1-veined, brown to straw, dull, often fine-lined-spotted, membranous, generally ± scabrous, tip generally notched, generally with short awn. Flower: bisexual; perianth bristles ± straight, ± <= fruit, generally brown, reflexed-barbed (or with soft hairs) [(smooth)]; stamens generally 3; style 1, thread-like, base not enlarged, stigmas 2–3. Fruit: generally obovate, brown, generally smooth, mucronate; tubercle 0.
Wetlands, often emergent (or submersed).
± 77 species: temperate, subtropics, worldwide. (Greek: rush woven, from use of stems in baskets, etc.) [Smith 2002 FNANM 23:44–60]
Unabridged etymology: (Greek, schoenos, a rush, reed, and plectos, plaited, twisted, woven, in reference to the use of stems in making useful objects)

Key to Schoenoplectus

S. acutus (Bigelow) Á. Löve & D. Löve var. occidentalis (S. Watson) S.G. Sm. COMMON TULE
Perennial herb 1–4 m; rhizome long, 5–15 mm diam. Stem: 2–10 mm diam, cylindric; wider air cavities in distal 1/4 ± 1–2.5 mm wide. Leaf: blades 1–2, << sheath, 3–7 mm wide; sheath splitting, leaving fibers. Inflorescence: panicle-like; inflorescence bract erect or spreading, 1–9 cm; spikelets 3–100+, in clusters of 1–8, not all 1 on 1 plant, 6–18 mm, 3–4 mm wide; flower bract 3–4 mm, 2–3 mm wide, sparse- (to dense-) scabrous, woolly-ciliate, often deciduously, tip notch 0.3–0.5 mm, awn 0.5–2 mm, often broken off, some or all markedly contorted. Flower: perianth bristles (4)6(8), (vestigial or) <= fruit; stigmas 2–3. Fruit: 2–3 mm, 1.2–1.7 mm wide, smooth, 2–3-sided.
Common. Marshes, shores, fens, shallow lakes, often emergent; < 2500 m. California (except e D); to British Columbia, Montana, Texas. [Scirpus acutus Muhl. ex Bigelow var. occidentalis (S. Watson) Beetle] Plants with stigmas 2, fruit 2-sided (Schoenoplectus acutus var. acutus) in eastern North America western to Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Texas, possible waif in California. Plants in southern California with stigmas generally 3, fruit generally 3-sided may deserve recognition as var. Intermediates to, putative hybrids with Schoenoplectus californicus collected in Central Coast, San Francisco Bay Area, deltaic Great Central Valley; putative hybrids with Schoenoplectus heterochaetus locally common, with Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani locally common in eastern North America. Summer [Online Interchange]
Unabridged note: Occurrence of Schoenoplectus acutus var. acutus in California unresolved because it seems to intergrade completely with Schoenoplectus acutus var. occidentalis and diagnostic characters are difficult to determine. Expanded author citation: Schoenoplectus acutus (Muhl. ex Bigelow) Á. Löve & D. Löve var. occidentalis (S. Watson) S.G. Sm.

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Schoenoplectus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Dec 1 2015

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click for enlargement Schoenoplectus acutus var. occidentalis
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1995 Saint Mary's College of California

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Schoenoplectus acutus var. occidentalis Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.