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Green Bulrush

Common Name: Green Bulrush.

Scientific Name: Scirpus Atrovirens.

What to look for?  Visualize the tallgrass of the prairie, except emerging from the shallow waters of Carillon Stonegate Pond! The Green Bulrush is a tall, erect perennial plant. It typically forms a clump of upright green stems or culms that are up to five feet tall. Along the entire stem or culm are up to eight alternating, yellow green to dark green leaves. In late spring, the culms or stems are topped with dark green spikelets that are clustered into spherical seedheads. By mid-summer, these spikelets develop fruit and mature to a brown coloration. Finally, in the fall, the spikelets turn yellow-brown.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? In spring, you can find the Green Bulrush’s green stems emerging from the shores of Carillon Stonegate Ponds. Due to the favorable conditions of our two ponds (many thanks to Carillon at Stonegate community and Kane County Forest Preserve!), there are colonies of Green Bulrush located all around the ponds.

How big are they? Green Bulrush are approximately two to four feet tall. The leaves are up to eighteen inches long and approximately three-fourths of one inch across. The multiple brown spikelets are up to four inches long.

Where do they grow and thrive? Green Bulrush is native to the U.S. and Canada. It is also native to and found throughout Illinois. Habitats include low areas along ponds and rivers, wet to moist prairies, sloughs and prairie swales, openings in floodplain woodlands, marshes, and sedge meadows.

When do they bloom? The Green Bulrush blooms from May into August.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The seeds and seedheads of the Green Bulrush and other bulrushes are an important source of food to many wetland birds, particularly ducks. The Canada Goose also feeds on the foliage. Among mammalian herbivores, we have seen muskrats, here on Carillon Stonegate Pond, bringing the rootstocks and culms of Green Bulrush home to their dens. Bulrushes are water loving plants which create excellent habitats for wild birds and provide nesting cover for bass and bluegill.

Interesting Facts About Green Bulrush:

  • Green Bulrush is also known as Common Bulrush and Dark Green Bulrush.

  • Green Bulrush and other bulrushes form a buffer against wind and wave action, thus permitting other aquatic plants to grow in an otherwise unfavorable environment.

  • If left undisturbed, colonies of the Green Bulrush will form from the rhizomatous root system.

  • The Green Bulrush provides important food and cover for waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds and muskrats.

For more information on the Green Bulrush and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Missouri Botanical Gardens, University of Texas Wildflower Center, Minnesota Wildflowers and Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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