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

Scientific name: Scirpus cyperinus (L.) Kunth

Common name(s): woolgrass, wool grass, bulrush, cottongrass bulrush, marsh bulrush, teddybear paws, common woolsedge

Link(s): USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

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


– perennial

-leaf blade 3–10 mm in width

– appears woolly when fully mature/later in the season

– clusters of spikelets share a common pedicel (“stem”)

– may be confused with S. pedicellatus (stalked bulrush) and/or S. atrocinctus (black bulrush); see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage



-meadows and fields

-shores of rivers

Natural History:

-named for its perianth bristles of the inflorescence that good it a woolly appearance 

-the Ojibwa used common woodsedge for weaving bags and mats

-the Potawatomi used the fruiting heads to stuff pillows



Go botany. “Scirpus Cyperinus (L.) Kunth.” Scirpus Cyperinus (Common Woolsedge, Woolgrass): Go Botany, 2021, gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/scirpus/cyperinus/.


Eric T. Doucette, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Biology, MA College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, MA (updated Feb 2018)