Flowering Rushes

2018 October 13

Remember the bullfrog pictures from Canada that I took on June 23, 2018, and that I posted a few weeks ago? Well, here are the plants that the frogs were hiding in. These are rushes that grow on the riverbank, out to where the water is maybe a foot or so deep.



Some of the plants were in bloom, and the flowers are actually quite attractive. They radiate from a central point, and make a 5-sided seed head.



These would be really hard to identify if they weren’t in bloom, but the combination of the habitat and the blossom is distinctive. These are Flowering Rushes, Butomus umbellatus. They were imported from Eurasia as ornamentals for water gardens. While I don’t think we have these around our house, it is probably only a matter of time – the plant is considered an invasive species, to the point that it is illegal to plant it in Minnesota and Michigan. They apparently aren’t very prolific seed producers, but the plants have rhizomes that spread easily (either by naturally washing down rivers, or by getting tangled in boat trailers). Once they get in place they grow vigorously and out-compete other plants. Their preferred environment is similar to that of Purple Loosestrife, another well-known invasive weed, which kind of makes me wonder which one would win out in a head-to-head competition.

These are not true rushes, but are part of an order that almost entirely consists of aquatic flowering plants. Of the plants that I have posted on this site so far, their closest relative is the Duckweeds. Which, to be honest, look almost nothing like them.

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