Scirpus longii Fern.
Habitat: Meadows, swamps, and fresh marshes. [Open wetland, not coastal nor rivershore (non-forested, wetland)]
Range: Along the coastal plain, North Carolina and southern New Jersey, north to Massachusetts, disjunct in Maine and western Nova Scotia.
Aids to Identification: Bulrushes of the genus Scirpus are leafy-stemmed sedges with terminal inflorescences of numerous, small spikelets. The reduced flowers, which are subtended by narrow perianth bristles, mature into an achene (single-seed, dry, indehiscent fruit). Scirpus longii is closely related to members of the S. cyperinus complex, the wool-grasses. These get their name from the long, smooth perianth bristles give the spikelets a wooly appearence. When in fruit, S. longii is easily separated from other species. Its achenes are red to red-brown (vs. white to yellow-gray). The inflorescence is subtended by dark, glutinous-based leafy bracts (vs. pale to dark, non-glutinous bracts). Vegetatively, S. longii is identified by its long, stout rhizomes and vase-like growth of leaves. Identification of this sedge is difficult unless it is in flower, and it usually only flowers after exposure to fire.
Ecological characteristics: In Maine, this species typically grows in sedge-dominated acidic fens. It rarely produces flowering and fruiting stems; flowering appears to be triggered by fire or drought.
Phenology: Fruits June.
Synonyms: None noted.
Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 4 town(s) in the following county(ies): Oxford, York.
Dates of documented observations are: 1990, 1991 (6), 1995, 1997, 1998 (4), 2001 (2), 2002 (2)
Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range.
Conservation considerations: Maintain hydrologic integrity of its fen (usually lakeshore fen) habitat, including natural fluctuations.
For more information, see the New England Wild Flower Society's Conservation Plan for Scirpus longii-pdf link-165 KB.