Indicator Plants

Eriophorum angustifolium – narrow-leaved cotton grass

Common Name

narrow-leaved cotton grass



Scientific Name

Eriophorum angustifolium

Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
  • Wet (W)
  • Very Wet (VW)
Soil Nutrient Regime (SNR)
  • Poor (P)

Botanical Drawing

Hitchcock, C. Leo, and Arthur Cronquist. Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual © 1973. Reprinted with permission of the University of Washington Press.

General / Habitat
  • A widely distributed, hardy sedge
  • Grows in fens, wet meadows and stream banks
  • Widespread and common from low to high elevations
Key Identifying Characteristics
  • Form: Stems grow singly or a few together, up to 80 cm tall
  • Leaves: Grow from base and along stem, flat below the middle and channelled toward the tip, 2-6 mm wide
  • Flowers: Drooping spikelets, 2 or more leafy involucral bracts longer than inflorescence
  • Fruit: Seed-like achenes surrounded by numerous, long white bristles; infructescence is highly conspicuous and cotton-like in appearance
  • Can distinguish from other Eriophorum based on number of stems arising from rhizome and 2-8 flowering heads
Interesting Characteristics
  • Stems were eaten and used in medicine by aboriginal groups, especially in Alaska

Douglas, G.W. et al (Editors). 1998-2002. Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, Volumes 1 to 8. B.C. Min. Environ., Lands and Parks, and B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C.

Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon. 2014. Plants of Coastal British Columbia Including Washington, Oregon & Alaska. B.C. Ministry of Forestry and Lone Pine Publishing. Vancouver, B.C.


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