Black bulrush

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469.  Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Scirpus atrocinctus Fernald

Common name(s): black bulrush, blackgirdle bulrush, black-girdled woolgrass, black-girdled woolsedge

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– perennial

– base of inflorescence is black “girdled”

-branching rhizomes

-4-7 leaves per culm

-sheaths are brown

-blades are 25–63 cm × 3–6 mm

-main branches are smooth proximally

-ovoid or ellipsoid spikelets

-variable species with many hybrids

-Scirpus atrocinctus differs from S. pedicellatus by having more intense pigmentation in its inflorescence

– may be confused with S. cyperinus (woolgrass) or S. pedicellatus (stalked bulrush); see left sidebar of Go Botany webpage


-wet meadows


-stream banks

-acidic soils



MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. January 20, 2021.

JSTOR. “ Filter Search by Search Advanced Search Scirpus Atrocinctus Fernald [Family CYPERACEAE].” Global Plants , 2021,