Kentucky Nature Preserves Rare Plants

Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission

Tawny Cotton-grass
Eriophorum virginicum
Family: Cyperaceae

Protection Status:
State Status:  E
USFWS Status: {null}

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1?

Peaty sites, occurring in the mountains in bogs and fens, in the piedmont (formerly) in bogs, in the fall-line sandhills in burned-out pocosins, in the coastal plain in pocosins, acidic seeps, and peat-burn pools (Weakley 2011).

Species Description:
Perennial grass.

Flowering Period: Early July to late September.
Fruiting Period: Early August to late October.

Additional Information at NatureServe

Diagnostic Characteristics:
The appearance of the inflorescence gives this sedge the name cotton grass because the mature spikelets have a perianth (sepals and petals) of bristles that form a dense cottony tuft. In this species the tuft is usually tawny colored. Stems are stiff and to a height of 1 m. Blades are flat and 2-4 mm wide. The foliaceous bracts exceed the inflorescence (the flowers) and are unequal.

The habitat for this species is very specialized and not likely to withstand much alteration. Grazing or browsing pressure, vegetation/ timber removal, hydrologic changes (i.e. vegetation removal in the vicinity or upslope/upstream, stream alterations) would be detrimental. Disturbance of surrounding areas such as ATV trails, timber removal or any activity that results in increased erosion and weed invasion will be detrimental. Exotic pest plants are a threat to this species and should be removed. Avoid creating access to the site through trail or road construction.

Global Range:

Known Kentucky Occurrences:

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Data last updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission
801 Teton Trail
Frankfort,KY 40601
Phone: (502) 573-2886
Fax: (502) 573-2355
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