Species Factsheets

Schoenoplectus acutus

Hard-stemmed Bulrush

View as PDF

State Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
PBS Status: Pennsylvania Endangered (PE)
Federal Status:

Global Rank: G5 rank interpretation
State Rank: S2

Schoenoplectus acutus


Hard-stemmed bulrush is an erect, grass-like perennial that grows from a spreading rhizome. The firm, round stems can reach up to 3 meters in height. Despite the common name, this species is not actually a rush, but a sedge. The leaves grow mostly near the base of the stem. Each plant has only 3 to 4 leaves, which are made up of short blades and longer sheaths. The sheaths are often red-tinged near the base. The flowers can be found in spikelets that are held in a small, branched cluster, or inflorescence. The inflorescence has stiff, upright branches and seems to be growing out of the side of the stem. This is due to a leaf-like bract that originates near the inflorescence and appears as a continuation of the stem. Plants can be found fruiting from June to August.

Rank Justification

Imperiled in the nation or state because of rarity due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the nation or state.


It grows in wetlands and can be found in the shallow water along the edges of lakes or ponds.

Survey Dates

Fruits June - August


Hard-stemmed bulrush has a distribution throughout North America. In Pennsylvania, the occurrences are localized in the western and central counties.



Conservation of hard-stemmed bulrush will require protection of known populations and of their wetland habitat. This may require consideration of the entire pond or lake community. Surrounding these communities with buffers could help to protect them from the effects of runoff or flooding. Sustaining appropriate water levels will also be important for maintaining high quality habitats.

Conservation Status Map


Map Legend

NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available https://explorer.natureserve.org.

  • NatureServe. 2018. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available at https://www.natureserve.org/explorer
  • Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. 2018.
  • Rhoads, A.F. and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The Vascular Flora of Pennsylvania. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rhoads, A.F. and T.A. Block.
  • 2007. The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. 2nd edition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
PNHP is a partnership between The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,
the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,
and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
DCNR Home Page
PA Game Commission Home Page
PA Fish and Boat Commission Home Page
Western PA Conservancy Home Page
DCNR Home Page PNHP | Forestry Home | Contact Us | Search This Site
© 2019 PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
DCNR Home Page