Northeastern Bulrush (Scirpus ancistrochaetus) Rediscovered in New York

From Steve Y0ung, NY Natural Heritage Program – This federally-threatened plant is known from Virginia north to Vermont. Learn more about it at the Center for Plant Conservation website HERE.  In New York, there was only one historical collection, from the Putnam Mountain area in Washington County in northeastern New York, from September 1900, and it was listed as extirpated from the state. The location for the historical record has been searched numerous times but no plants have been found again.  In recent years more populations of the bulrush were found in adjacent Vermont and in northern Pennsylvania in a county adjacent to New York. It was frustrating that we couldn’t find it in New York – it was so close by.

This year I received funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to look for it again in the Southern Tier of New York to see if there were populations extending north from Pennsylvania.  On the second day of searching small wetlands in Steuben County, south of Corning, I finally found it.  It was growing in a small (40 m diameter) vernal wetland at the top of a hill that I had identified as a place to search using topographic maps and Bing birds-eye-view aerial photos on the web. One month shy of the 110th anniversary of its last collection in New York, it was back in our flora. I spent two more days searching other wetlands in the county, and I have more days to search later in the month so I hope I can discover more populations.  Dr. Rob Naczi from the NY Botanical Garden will also be searching areas near Vermont. Let’s hope he will find some in that area as well.  Stay tuned to this blog . . .

Below are some of the photos from the population in Steuben County.

This is what the wetland looked like as I approached through the hemlock woods.

In the middle was a small open muddy area surrounded by Northeastern bulrush.

The species has rays that arch down from the top of the culm.

The culms usually lay down and root in the mud.

The peripheral open muddy areas had different plant species but the area covered by the bulrush was almost a monoculture.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Plant Sightings, Rare Plant Surveys, Rare Plants

5 Comments on “Northeastern Bulrush (Scirpus ancistrochaetus) Rediscovered in New York”

  1. Sara Says:

    Congratulations, Steve! What an exciting discovery!

  2. Chris Says:

    Very cool!


  3. Woo Hoo! Congratulations, Steve. Only a fellow flower nut could really appreciate what this means to you and your colleagues. What diligence, what a find!

  4. SD Says:

    Outstanding find, Steve! And great sleuthing to hone in on likely habitats. Small “isolated” wetlands like the one you found it in are not necessarily protected by any regs – is that correct?


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