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Eleocharis quinqueflora

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CyperaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: 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.
Genera In Family: +- 100 genera, 5000 species: especially temperate. Note: 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.
eFlora Treatment Author: S. Galen Smith, except as noted
Scientific Editor: S. Galen Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: EleocharisView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: SPIKERUSH
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, generally forming mats, glabrous, internal air cavities evident; caudex generally 0; rhizomes generally evident, long, scaly, bulb or tuber at tip generally 0. Stem: simple, generally erect, smooth, generally not hollow; tip generally not rooting. Leaf: 2, basal, blades 0 or tooth-like, <= 1 mm. Inflorescence: inflorescence bracts 0; spikelet terminal, 1, generally ovate, not +- flat [(+- flat)], generally not forming plantlets, flowers 3--100+; flower bracts spiraled [(2-ranked)], each with 1 flower in axil, generally ovate, generally brown, generally membranous, smooth, tip generally acute to obtuse, notch 0; basal flower bract generally encircling stem, generally < 1/2 spikelet, flower generally 0. Flower: bisexual; perianth parts reduced to bristles, 0--8, generally +- <= fruit, barbs generally recurved; stamens generally 3; style 1, thread-like, base enlarged, generally persistent on fruit as tubercle. Fruit: generally obovate, generally brown; tubercle (0 or) generally distinct, generally pyramidal.
Species In Genus: +- 200 species: tropics to boreal. Etymology: (Greek heleios, dwelling in a marsh, and Charis, grace) Note: Eleocharis lanceolata Fernald, Eleocharis equisetoides Torr. not in California.
eFlora Treatment Author: S. Galen Smith

Eleocharis quinqueflora (Hartmann) O. Schwarz
Habit: Perennial herb 5--30 cm, forming small mats, stem-tuft base generally swollen, often with bulbs, 2-veined scales present or not; rhizome 0.5--1 mm diam, weak, tip often with bulb 3--11 mm, 1--5 mm wide, ovate; caudex 0 or present. Stem: 0.2--0.8 mm diam, cylindric. Leaf: distal sheath firm, persistent, tip +- truncate to acute. Inflorescence: spikelet 4--8 mm, 1.5--4 mm wide, or 0; flower bracts 3--8, 2.5--6 mm, basal >= 1/2 spikelet, with flower or not. Flower: anthers 1--2.5 mm; stigmas 3. Fruit: 1.3--2.3 mm, 0.8--1.4 mm wide, 3-sided, smooth or fine-longitudinal-ridged, distally tapered, tip often beak-like; tubercle often merging with fruit; perianth bristles (0)3--6(7), vestigial to equaling tubercle.
Ecology: Uncommon, local. Wet meadows, fens, seeps, shores; Elevation: 40--3600 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR, NCoRI, CaR, SN, ScV, SCoRO, SnBr, SnJt, GB; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, eastern Canada, Greenland, New Jersey; Eurasia. Flowering Time: Spring--summer Note: 2 additional taxa possibly to be named in California; study needed.
Synonyms: Scirpus quinqueflorus Hartmann; Eleocharis pauciflora (Lightf.) Link; Eleocharis pauciflora var. fernaldii Svenson; Eleocharis quinqueflora subsp. fernaldii (Svenson) Hultén; Scirpus pauciflorus Lightf.
Unabridged Note: The names Eleocharis quinqueflora and Eleocharis pauciflora, both from Europe, need typification. Some variants may deserve recognition as species or infraspecific taxa; in California these are: plants at lower elev, especially in ScV, with many large bulbs on rhizome tips (formed only where soil is drying) but no fruit and often no spikelets, which apparently intergrade (at elevations to 3000 m, to Oregon, Montana and AZ) with plants with smaller bulbs and with spikelets and often with fruit; plants at > 1700 m in SN, CaR (Mount Lassen) and San Bernardino Co., known only from California, which differ consistently in their hard caudices, spikelet with only 3--4 flowers, basal flower bract without a flower, and flower bracts only 2.5--4 mm, generally dark chestnut-colored. Bulbs probably eaten by native Americans in White Mountains, Inyo Co.
eFlora Treatment Author: S. Galen Smith
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Citation for this treatment: S. Galen Smith 2017. Eleocharis quinqueflora, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 26, 2017.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2017. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 26, 2017.

Eleocharis quinqueflora
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© 2004 Steve Matson
Eleocharis quinqueflora
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson
Eleocharis quinqueflora
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson
Eleocharis quinqueflora
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson

More photos of Eleocharis quinqueflora in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Eleocharis quinqueflora:
KR, NCoRI, CaR, SN, ScV, SCoRO, SnBr, SnJt, GB;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
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.