Eleocharis multicaulis

Many-stalked Spike-rush


Eleocharis multicaulis, Greendale, Wasdale (Cumberland), August 2011

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Overview
  • strongly tufted (unlike the other larger species), but can develop extensive patches through coalescing of individuals (as above)
  • sheath apex obliquely truncate, so with a +/- acute point (unique in the larger species)
  • spikelet narrow-ovoid; sometimes proliferous (unique in UK spike-rushes)
  • lowest glume +/- encloses base of spikelet (approaches uniglumis and quinqueflora; unlike austriaca and palustris)
  • ripe nut is distinctly 3-sided in section; style-base broad, with constriction, but not swollen, triangular in outline
  • mires of various types, with some mineral influence; damp hollows on sandy heaths, etc.

Growth
~ strongly tufted (although plants can readily coalesce, so making ‘patches’)


multicaulis - ‘sprawling’ plant in open gravelly runnel


multicaulis - more upright plants in peaty mire

Stems
~ stems generally fairly short – 15-30 cm, often flexuous; mid-green and shiny; red/purple-based or not


typical red-based stems (scale is 5 cm)

Sheath apex
~ sheath apex obliquely truncate, hence producing a +/- acute point:


sheath-apex obliquely truncate...


...making a +/- acute point (not always as pronounced as this)


Stem section
~ stems typically narrower than the ‘big two’ species (i.e. austriaca and palustris): 1.0-1.5 mm across, circular or somewhat flattened in section.
~ layers of green tissue are considerably deeper than in e.g.
palustris and the central hollow correspondingly narrower.
~ abundant fibre-bundles, more frequent that in
palustris.


stem section

Epidermis
~ very distinctive: compared with palustris, fibre-bundles are more abundant, giving the impression of ‘sheets’; ranks of ‘ordinary’ cells are narrower, the rows carrying stomata in ‘single file’ flanked by single rows of much narrower cells. (Go to page ID:palustris/austriaca for wider discussion of epidermal peels. Describes technique to obtain peels.)


epidermal peel

Stomata
~ note convex ends to stomata, unlike palustris.


file of stomata with very narrow flanking cells, bounded by bundles of fibre-cells

Spikelets
~ oval-lanceolate or elliptical-ovoid; about 10-30 flowers; can be partly proliferous (unique in UK spike-rushes).


spikelets....

...in which some flowers may proliferate

Glumes
~ lowest glume +/- encloses base of spikelet (more than half), and is about a quarter the length of the spikelet. Can often be notched at its rounded apex.


spikelet

basal glume often notched at its rounded apex

Flowers
~ stigma 3-forked (as in the smaller species; contrast austriaca, palustris and uniglumis)
~ perianth bristles 4-6, usually longer than nut

Nuts
~ slightly narrower than the other larger species, the outline of the style-base accentuating the impression of narrowness
~ style-base (stylopodium) broad at the base, with a clear constriction at its junction with the nut, but not swollen, being low and rapidly narrowing above



ripe nuts from the same spikelet


nuts from the same spikelet
IMG_9406cropB


Habitat
~ mires with some mineral input; typical of runnels and small pools within basin mires; gravelly seepages on valley-sides; seasonally wet hollows in sandy heaths, etc.



Greendale, Wasdale (Cumbria): multicaulis in small mire pools and drains (August 2011)





Frequency & range
~ widespread and frequent in damper areas, so especially in the west and north; scattered in the east. See distribution map.

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