Eleocharis ~ s
eparation of confusion pairs:

palustris versus multicaulis

Separation


Multicaulis is a rather squatter, usually obviously tufted, plant (though where abundant, plants can coalesce into patches). Palustris makes patches and often large sheets.

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Growth-form

~ as stated above, multicaulis is tufted; palustris has a strongly creeping rhizome and soon creates large patches


multicaulis - ‘sprawling’ tufted plant in open gravelly runnel


tufted plants of multicaulis in small pool in basin mire



Basal glumes


~ in palustris, the two basal glumes are sterile (so enclose no flowers or fruit), similar in size, short, and typically each encloses just half the spikelet-base with no overlap
~ in multicaulis only the one basal glume is sterile, and this largely encircles the base of the spikelet


multicaulis: +/-encircling basal glume often notched at its rounded apex



Spikelet shape

~ typically,
palustris has symmetrical heads, but of many shapes from cigar-shaped to lanceolate, shorter ovoid or even somewhat conical
~ in multicaulis there is a much more restricted range of shapes, ovoid-ellptic or ovoid-lanceolate
~
multicaulis is often proliferous - an instant confirmation, since this is the only spike-rush to show this feature


multicaulis: a proliferating flower


Style-base (stylopodium)


~ style-base in palustris is strongly and obviously swollen. (Photo below shows nut with four shorter bristles with the minute rearwards pointing hooks, and three long, broad filaments.)
~ style-base in multicaulis narrows rapidly from a wide base, generally an equilateral triangle in outline. There is a clear constriction at its junction with the nut.


palustris
multicaulis




Perianth bristles


~ in palustris there are almost always four bristles, variable in length, but roughly the same length as the nut
~ in multicaulis, there are 4-6 bristles, and these are generally a similar length to palustris (see pictures above)


Basal sheath


~ the sheath-apex in multicaulis is obliquely truncate, hence producing a +/- acute point. In palustris the apex is about transversely truncate


multicaulis: sheath-apex obliquely truncate, making a +/- acute point


Stem


~ multicaulis can match palustris at times in stem width, though often rather narrower, but stems are normally shorter


Stem section


~ layers of green tissue are considerably deeper in multicaulis than in palustris and the central hollow correspondingly narrower
~ there are abundant fibre-bundles, more frequent that in
palustris


stem sections: palustris (above); multicaulis (below)




Epidermal peel


~ compared with palustris, multicaulis has fibre-bundles more abundant, giving the impression of ‘sheets’; the runs of ‘ordinary’ cells are narrower, the rows carrying stomata in ‘single file’ flanked by single rows of much narrower cells.


epidermal peels: palustris (above); multicaulis (below), same scale



Links to the other Eleocharis spike-rush pages (also accessible from the sidebar)