Eleocharis multicaulis

Many-stalked Spike-rush


Eleocharis multicaulis, Greendale, Wasdale (Cumberland), August 2011

The following topics (below) are covered. Select a button, or scroll down, to go straight to a topic.

Use the linked "
" up-arrows with each topic header to get back here, or use the 'Top' button which appears in the lower-right corner when you're further down the page.

Links to all pages are at the bottom of the page.
Overview
strongly tufted (unlike the other larger species), but can develop extensive patches through coalescing of individuals (as above)
sheath apex obliquely truncate, so with a +/- acute point (unique in the larger species)
spikelet narrow-ovoid; sometimes proliferous (unique in UK spike-rushes)
lowest glume +/- encloses base of spikelet (approaches uniglumis and quinqueflora; unlike austriaca and palustris)
ripe nut is distinctly 3-sided in section; style-base broad, with constriction, but not swollen, triangular in outline
mires of various types, with some mineral influence; damp hollows on sandy heaths, etc.


Growth
~ strongly tufted (although plants can readily coalesce, so making ‘patches’)


multicaulis - ‘sprawling’ plant in open gravelly runnel


multicaulis - more upright plants in peaty mire

Stems
~ stems generally fairly short – 15-30 cm, often flexuous; mid-green and shiny; red/purple-based or not


typical red-based stems (scale is 5 cm)

Sheath apex
~ sheath apex obliquely truncate, hence producing a +/- acute point:


sheath-apex obliquely truncate...


...making a +/- acute point (not always as pronounced as this)


Stem section
~ stems typically narrower than the ‘big two’ species (i.e. austriaca and palustris): 1.0-1.5 mm across, circular or somewhat flattened in section.
~ layers of green tissue are considerably deeper than in e.g.
palustris and the central hollow correspondingly narrower.
~ abundant fibre-bundles, more frequent that in
palustris.


stem section

Epidermis
~ very distinctive: compared with palustris, fibre-bundles are more abundant, giving the impression of ‘sheets’; ranks of ‘ordinary’ cells are narrower, the rows carrying stomata in ‘single file’ flanked by single rows of much narrower cells. (Go to page ID:palustris/austriaca for wider discussion of epidermal peels. Describes technique to obtain peels.)


epidermal peel

Stomata
~ note convex ends to stomata, unlike palustris.


file of stomata with very narrow flanking cells, bounded by bundles of fibre-cells

Spikelets
~ oval-lanceolate or elliptical-ovoid; about 10-30 flowers; can be partly proliferous (unique in UK spike-rushes).


spikelets....

...in which some flowers may proliferate

Glumes
~ lowest glume +/- encloses base of spikelet (more than half), and is about a quarter the length of the spikelet. Can often be notched at its rounded apex.


spikelet

basal glume often notched at its rounded apex

Flowers
~ stigma 3-forked (as in the smaller species; contrast austriaca, palustris and uniglumis)
~ perianth bristles 4-6, usually longer than nut

Nuts
~ slightly narrower than the other larger species, the outline of the style-base accentuating the impression of narrowness
~ style-base (stylopodium) broad at the base, with a clear constriction at its junction with the nut, but not swollen, being low and rapidly narrowing above



ripe nuts from the same spikelet


nuts from the same spikelet
IMG_9406cropB


Habitat
~ mires with some mineral input; typical of runnels and small pools within basin mires; gravelly seepages on valley-sides; seasonally wet hollows in sandy heaths, etc.



Greendale, Wasdale (Cumbria): multicaulis in small mire pools and drains (August 2011)





Frequency & range
~ widespread and frequent in damper areas, so especially in the west and north; scattered in the east. See distribution map.


Links to the other
Eleocharis spike-rush pages (also accessible from the sidebar)