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Schoenoplectus californicus (C.A.Mey.) Palla
Family Cyperaceae
Common name: California Tule

Schoenoplectus californicus (C.A.Mey.) Palla APNI*

Description: Tall, rhizomatous perennial. Culms triquetrous below the inflorescence, then trigonous to terete towards the base, mid to dark green, 1–3 m high, 8–35 mm diam.

Leaves reduced; sheaths to 30 cm long.

Inflorescence umbel-like, with elongate, drooping branches to 10 cm long, with 1–5 spikelets per branch; involucral bract much shorter than inflorescence. Spikelets ovoid to ellipsoid, acute, 5–12 mm long, 2.5–3 mm diam. Glumes obtuse, 2.5–3 mm long, with sparsely ciliolate and hyaline margins. Hypogynous bristles 2–4, flattish to trigonous in cross-section, spreading- to retrorse-plumose on margins, slightly shorter than nut. Style 2-fid.

Nut broad-obovoid to broad-ellipsoid, plano-convex, pale brown to grey-brown, c. 2.5–3 mm long, c. 1.7 mm diam.

Photo J. R. Hosking

Photo J. R. Hosking


Distribution and occurrence: Naturalised on lower North Coast: Williams River at Raymond Terrace and Kooragang Island near Newcastle. Native to western North America, south to Chile and Argentina. Also in Hawai'i and Easter Island (possibly introduced). Naturalised in New Zealand.

Wet situations, e.g. river bank in shallow brackish water; recorded in water 2 m deep in New Zealand.
NSW subdivisions: *NC
AVH map***

Used in South America for making reed boats. Cultivated in New Zealand in artificial wetlands for waste-water management (de Lange et al. (1998) New Zealand J. Botany 36: 319-327) but a weed elsewhere in NZ. Could become a weed here owing to its dense, tall stands. Generally taller and more robust than S. subulatus and S. validus - see key for other differences.

Text by Karen Wilson 2004; edited KL Wilson July 2022
Taxon concept: Karen Wilson 2004

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.
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