Softstem Bulrush (Tabernaemontani)

The Softstem Bulrush (Tabernaemontani) is generally described as a perennial graminoid. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer and fall . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Softstem Bulrush (Tabernaemontani) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Softstem Bulrush (Tabernaemontani) will reach up to 9 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Softstem Bulrush (Tabernaemontani) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed, sprigs. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -38°F. has none tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: Native Americans wove the stems of softstem bulrush into mats (Guard 1995). The dried beaten rootstocks were used by some Indian tribes as meal for bread, while the young tip of the rootstock was edible and reputed to serve as a thirst-quencher; the boiled young roots yield sweet syrup (Steyermark 1963).

Wildlife: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani provide food and cover for fish, muskrats, raccoons, and otters (Guard 1995). The hard-coated fruits are an important and common food source for ducks, shore birds, and marsh birds (Ibid.). This species provide nesting cover for water birds, waterfowl, and marsh wrens.

General Characteristics

General: Sedge family (Cyperaceae). Soft-stem bulrush Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani is a tall, perennial, herbaceous plant that grows up to ten feet tall. The leaves are highly modified into long sheaths that closely girdle stem bases (Guard 1995). The flowers are borne in an open inflorescence of many stalked, budlike spikelets, covered by reddish brown scales below the top of the stem (Tiner 1987). The fruit is a brownish gray achene (Ibid.).

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Adaptation Soft-stem bulrush occurs in deep or shallow water, or in muddy or marshy ground around lakes, ponds, streams, and wooded wetlands (Guard 1995). This species usually occurs in poorly drained soil. It grows better in saline conditions than in fresh water, and it tolerates a wide range of salinity.

Cultivation and Care

Propagation by Seed: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani seeds should be sown in a cold frame as soon as they are ripe in a pot standing in three centimeters of water. The seeds germinate quickly. When they are large enough to handle, large divisions can be planted directly into their permanent positions in early summer. Place smaller divisions in pots and grow them in a cold frame, planting them when they are well established in the summer.

General Upkeep and Control

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani can survive following periodic draining and flooding of marshes. However softstem bulrush stands can be reduced if prolonged draining and flooding continuously occurs.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring, Summer, Fall
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Rhizomatous
Drought Tolerance None
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 9
Vegetative Spread Rapid
Flower Color Red
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Summer
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed, Sprigs
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -38
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.4–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 18–18 inches/yr
Planting Density 1100–1700 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 16
Minimum Frost-Free Days 80 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Fire Resistant No

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA