Woolgrass (Cyperinus)

The Woolgrass (Cyperinus) 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 . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late summer, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Woolgrass (Cyperinus) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Woolgrass (Cyperinus) will reach up to 4.9 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Woolgrass (Cyperinus) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed, sprigs. It has a rapid ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: Woolgrass stems were woven to make matting and ropes. The fruiting tops of the plant were used as a resilient material for stuffing and making pillows (Moerman 1998). The small rushes were used in making woven mats and storage bags (Ibid.).

General Characteristics

General: Sedge family (Cyperaceae). Woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus) is a tall perennial with slender culms. This species is an erect grasslike plant that commonly grows four to five feet (Tiner 1987). The leaves are smooth, flat, elongated, and up to ½ inch wide. The flowers occur in dense rounded clusters of greenish-brown spiklets arising from the top of the culm. The fruits are yellow-gray to white achenes surpassed by long red-brown bristles at maturity.

Required Growing Conditions

Scirpus cyperinus ranges from New England and New York westward across Ohio to Iowa, and southward to North Carolina and Oklahoma. It is also found from Newfoundland to Minnesota south to Florida and Louisiana (Tiner 1987). For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

Adaptation Woolgrass is found in irregularly flooded tidal fresh marshes, inland marshes, wet meadows, and swamps. This species grows best in areas with wet soil moisture content and is seldom found in more than a few inches of water (Voss 1972). It prefers peat or sandy soil types in full to partially sunny locations.

Cultivation and Care

Propagation by Seed: Scirpus cyperinus 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, plant them into their permanent positions in early summer.

Large divisions can be planted directly into their permanent positions. It is best to pot smaller divisions and grow them in a cold frame, out-planting when they are well established in the summer.

General Upkeep and Control

After seed planting water level over Scirpus cyperinus seeds should be maintained at one foot for two weeks. Periodic flooding up to three feet should occur until the seeds are established.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Summer
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 4.9
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Green
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Rapid
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed, Sprigs
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 12
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 4.8–7.2 pH
Precipitation Range 40–40 inches/yr
Planting Density 3450–4800 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Minimum Frost-Free Days 110 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

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