Bolboschoenus maritimus (L.) Palla

saltmarsh tuber-bulrush

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Saltmarsh tuber-bulrush inhabits brackish to saline coast and slat marshes. It gives cover to waterfowl, who eat its seeds. Native Americans used this species for basketry, mats, and sandals. There are two subspecies of B. maritimus in the flora: B. maritimus ssp. maritimus which was introduced from Europe and is known only from ME, and B. maritimus ssp. paludosus (A. Nels.) T. Koyama that is native to New England and known from CT, MA , ME , NH, RI .

Habitat

Brackish or salt marshes and flats, marshes, intertidal, subtidal or open ocean, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
Stem shape in cross-section
the stem is roughly triangular in cross-section
Leaf blade width
2–12 mm
Leaf blade cross-section
the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
Inflorescence position
the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
Inflorescence branching
  • the inflorescence is branched
  • the inflorescence is on one or more stems with no branches
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by scales
Fruit length
2.3–4.1 mm
Leaf position on plant
  • some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
  • the attachment points of all the leaves are at or near the base of the plant
Perianth composition
there are bristles attached at the base of the achene
Fruit cross-section
  • the fruit is lenticular (lens-shaped) in cross-section
  • the fruit is triangular to terete (circular) in cross-section
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther color (dry)
    the anthers range in color from white to tan or yellow to yellow-brown
    Anther length
    2–4 mm
    Floral bristle color
    the bristles are pale brown to brown
    Floral bristle number
    1-4
    Floral bristle relative length
    the bristles are between one tenth as long as the achene, and equal in length to the achene
    Floral bristles
    the bristles are straight or slightly curved
    Floral scale hairs
    the floral scales have hairs on them
    Floral scale length
    5–8 mm
    Floral scale nerves
    1
    Floral scale shape
    • the floral scales are lanceolate (widest below the middle, and tapering at both ends)
    • the floral scales are ovate (roughly egg-shaped)
    Floral scale translucent
    the floral scales are translucent
    Inflorescence bract angle
    the bracts are vertical or angled only slightly outwards
    Inflorescence bract number
    there are two to five bracts per inflorescence
    Inflorescence bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Inflorescence bracts
    there are at least two bracts, and they are either flat or folded or rolled in at the edges
    Inflorescence branching
    • the inflorescence is branched
    • the inflorescence is on one or more stems with no branches
    Inflorescence crowding
    • the inflorescence is at least somewhat spread out, with at least one branch coming from the main stem
    • the inflorescence is crowded together in one tight cluster
    Inflorescence position
    the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
    Inflorescence shape
    the aggregations within the inflorescence are roughly circular (not flattened) in cross-section
    Inflorescence type
    • there are two or more flowers, spikes or flower clusters on a branched inflorescence
    • there is one spike or raceme at the tip of the stem
    Perianth composition
    there are bristles attached at the base of the achene
    Stamen number
    3
    Stigma number
    • 2
    • 3
    Style division
    the top two thirds of the style is divided
    floral bristle barbs
    the bristles have tiny barbs on them
    plantlets budding at flower bases
    no
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene beak length
    0.1–0.4 mm
    Achene surface texture
    the achene is smooth (it has no detectable texture)
    Achene tubercle relative width
    NA
    Achene tubercle width
    0 mm
    Capsule relative length
    NA
    Fruit cross-section
    • the fruit is lenticular (lens-shaped) in cross-section
    • the fruit is triangular to terete (circular) in cross-section
    Fruit length
    2.3–4.1 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by scales
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is an achene (dry, seed-like fruit) without a tubercle (a swelling or projection, usually of a different color or texture)
    Locules in capsule
    NA
    Seed length
    0 mm
    Seed tail relative length
    0 mm
    Seed tails
    NA
    Tubercle height
    0 mm
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Underground organs
    • the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
    • the plant has one or more swollen storage organs underground, such as bulbs or tubers
  • Leaves
    Auricle length
    0 mm
    Auricle texture
    NA
    Auricles
    there are no auricles on the leaf sheath
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
    Leaf blade width
    2–12 mm
    Leaf form
    all the leaves hold their form out of water
    Leaf position on plant
    • some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
    • the attachment points of all the leaves are at or near the base of the plant
    Leaf septa
    the leaf blades do not have transverse septa
    Leaf sheath hairs
    the leaf sheathes are without hairs
    Pedicel length (Typha)
    0 mm
    Stem leaf blade ligules
    there are no ligules at the leaf blade bases
    Stem leaf blades
    there are fully-developed leaves with leaf blades on the main stem
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • brackish or salt marshes and flats
    • edges of wetlands
    • intertidal, subtidal or open ocean
    • marshes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    50–150 cm
    Stem shape in cross-section
    the stem is roughly triangular in cross-section
    Stem texture near tip
    the stem feels smooth near the tip
    Stem thickness at midpoint
    1–8 mm

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
absent
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

ssp. paludosus

Connecticut
uncommon (S-rank: S3), special concern (code: SC)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), concern (code: C)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Bolboschoenus robustus:
anthers orange-brown to red-brown on drying and floral scales opaque (vs. B. maritimus, with anthers pale yellow to pale yellow-brown on drying and floral scales translucent).

Synonyms

  • Schoenoplectus maritimus (L.) Lye
  • Scirpus maritimus L.

Family

Cyperaceae

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Subspecies paludosus is native to New England and known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI. Subspecies maritimus is introduced from Europe and is known only from ME.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

3.  Bolboschoenus maritimus (L.) Palla n

saltmarsh tuber-bulrush.  3a. Schoenoplectus maritimus (L.) Lye; Scirpus maritimus L. var. maritimus;  3b. Bolboschoenus maritimus (L.) Palla ssp. paludosus (A. Nels.) A. & D. Löve; 
B. paludosus (A. Nels.) Soó; Scirpus paludosus A. Nels. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI. Brackish to saline coastal shorelines and marshes.

1a.  Styles mostly trifid; achenes medium to dark brown, compressed-trigonous to, less commonly, lenticular; floral scales medium to dark brown … 3a. B. maritimus ssp. maritimus

1b.  Styles mostly bifid; achenes white-brown to medium brown (dark brown), usually lenticular; floral scales light yellow-brown to medium brown (rarely dark brown) 
 … 3b. B. maritimus ssp. paludosus (A. Nels.) T. Koyama

Subspecies paludosus is native to New England and known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI. 
Subspecies maritimus is introduced from Europe and is known only from ME.

3×5. Bolboschoenus maritimus × Bolboschoenus robustus This rare tuber-bulrush hybrid is frequently encountered when both parent species are sympatric. It is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI. It is similar to both parents 
but shows dark yellow to orange-yellow anthers and barely translucent scales.