slender spike sedge
Eleocharis gracilis R.Br. var. gracillima Hook.f.; Eleocharis gracilis R.Br. var. radicans Hook.f.; Eleocharis cunninghamii Boeck.; Eleocharis gracillima (Hook.f.) Hook.f.; Eleocharis hookeri Boeck.
Vascular – Native
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
2n = 20
Current conservation status
The threat classification status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened | Qualifiers: SO
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Indigenous. In New Zealand present in the North, South, Chatham and Stewart Islands. Present in Australia and Norfolk Island.
Coastal to subalpine. A species of usually open situations on permanently damp ground such as lake, pond, tarn, stream and river sides, and wetlands.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
OBL: Obligate Wetland
Almost always is a hydrophyte, rarely in uplands (non-wetlands).
Terrestrial or semi-aquatic sedge forming green to red-green tufts. Rhizomes widely creeping, 1-3 mm diameter, loosely ensheathed at each nodes by conspicuous dark maroon, obtuse bracts with broad membranous margins. Culms densely tufted to widely spaced (or set close together in a linear series), 20.0-400.0 x 0.5 mm, erect or curved; sheaths membranous, with maroon to purple markings and an oblique orifice. Spikelets conspicuous, 3-8 x 1-4 mm, 5-20-flowered, ovoid to almost lanceolate, subacute. Glumes oblong, obtuse, 1-nerved, membranous, margins often very broad. Hypogynous bristles 4-8, usually > nut. Stamens 3. Style 3-fid. Nut slightly < 1.5 mm long, slightly , 1 mm diameter, trigonous, obovoid, light to dark brown, smooth, surmounted by the pyramidal, persistent style-base.
Most likely to be confused with Eleocharis pusilla R.Br. from which it differs by widely creeping rather than ascending rhizome; by the spikelets > 3 mm long (rather than 2.5-3 mm long); hypogynous bristles 4-8 (rather than absent or occasionally 2-3); and by the smooth nut (rather than nut with the surface covered in prominent vertical ribs and fine transverse bars). Eleocharis gracilis and E. pusilla may at times be sympatric.
August - January
October - May
Bristly nuts are dispersed by water and possibly wind and attachment (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. Prefers a permanently damp situation in full sun.
eleocharis: Charm of the swamp
Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970)
References and further reading
Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309