Eleocharis ovata

Ovate Spike Rush

Ovate Spikerush, Photo Courtesy USDA Plants Database

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


  • Eleocharis, from the Greek, `eleios (heleios) , "of the marsh or meadow", and caris (charis) , "joy; grace; kindness; beauty", sometimes a reference to a specific plant.
  • ovata, from the Latin, "oval"
  • Common Name, from the shape of the flowering spike
  • Other common names include: bahnička vajcovitá (Slovak)


  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Liliopsida, the Monocotyledons
      • Subclass Commelinidae
        • Order Cyperales
          • Family Cyperaceae, the Sedges
            • Genus Eleocharis, the Spike Rushes, over 100 difficult-to-distinguish species worldwide.
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 40061
  • Also known as Eleocharis annua, Eleocharis obtusa var. heuseri, Eleocharis obtusa var. ovata, Scirpus ovatus


  • A tufted annual herb
  • Leaves reduced to basal sheaths, the sheaths red, brown, or straw-colored.
  • Stems upright, unbranched, rather slender, inconspicuously 3-angled, smooth, up to 18" tall, each bearing a terminal spike.
  • Roots fibrous, to 6" deep
  • Flowers crowded into a terminal spike, the spike ovoid, pointed at the tip, up to ½" long and ¼" thick; scales appressed, narrowly ovate to oblong, rounded at the tip, sometimes purplish. Flowering August-October
    • Sepals absent
    • Petals absent
    • Stamens 3
    • Pistils 2 styles
    • Ovary superior (within blossom)
  • Fruit an obovoid achene, flattened laterally, yellow to deep brown, smooth, about 1/20" long, with a terminal tubercle; tubercle 1/2-2/3 the width of the achene, sometimes 2- or 3-parted at the tip; bristles longer than the achene, or lacking.


  • A leaf-less, grass-like waterside plant
  • Distinguished by its ovoid spike that is pointed at the tip and the tubercle of the achene 1/2-2/3 the width of the achene.


  • Circumboreal; Pacific Northwest across Northern Plains and Great Lakes states to New England.


  • Edges of ponds and moist soils; shallow waters Wet ground.





  • By seed
  • Flowers August-October


  • By seed


  • Hardy to USDA Zone 2 (average minimum annual temperature -50ºF)
  • Cultural Requirements
    • Sun full; shade intolerant
    • Soil pH 4.6-6.8
    • Water use medium
    • Fertilization unnecessary
    • Minimum frost-free days - 90
  • Size 6"-12"W x 12"-18"H
  • Growth rate moderate



Valley Internet Company
Return to Home Page
Send Feedback to Webmaster

Last updated on 26 February, 2004