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SPECIES:  Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
Softstem bulrush in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Image by Troy Evans, Bugwood.org.

Introductory

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Snyder, S. A. 1993. Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/graminoid/schtan/all.html []. Revisions: Images were added on 19 October 2018. ABBREVIATION: SCHTAB SYNONYMS: Scirpus lacustris L. subsp. creber (Fernald) T. Koyama Scirpus lacustris L. subsp. glaucus (Rchb.) Hartm. Scirpus lacustris L. subsp. validus (Vahl) T. Koyama [35] Scirpus validus Vahl [16] NRCS PLANT CODE: SCTA2 COMMON NAMES: softstem bulrush soft-stem bulrush soft-stem clubrush great bulrush giant bulrush bullwhip common bulrush TAXONOMY: The scientific name of softstem bulrush is Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (K.C. Gmel.) Palla (Cyperaceae) [35,36]. LIFE FORM: Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Softstem bulrush occurs throughout North America from central Alaska south to Mexico, east to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and south through Florida. It does not occur through central and southern California [8]. It is native on the Hawaiian islands of Niihau, Oahu, Molokai, and Hawaii [34].
Distribution of softstem bulrush. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, October 19] [30].
ECOSYSTEMS: 
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES37  Mountain meadows
   FRES39  Prairie
   FRES41  Wet grasslands


STATES: 
     AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA
     HI  ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD
     MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ
     NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC
     SD  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY
     AB  BC  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ
     SK  YT  MEXICO



BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS: 
    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands


KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS: 
   K025  Alder - ash forest
   K049  Tule marshes
   K063  Foothills prairie
   K072  Sea oats prairie
   K073  Northern cordgrass prairie
   K075  Nebraska Sandhills prairie
   K078  Southern cordgrass prairie
   K080  Marl - everglades
   K092  Everglades
   K098  Northern floodplain forest


SAF COVER TYPES: 
    63  Cottonwood
   235  Cottonwood - willow


HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES: 
Softstem bulrush is a dominant in the following classification type:

Landscape classification and plant successional trends in the
   Peace-Athabasca Delta [7]

Some species associated with softstem bulrush are smartweed (Polygonum
spp.), sedge (Carex spp.), common cattail, reed (Phragmites spp.), water
hemlock (Circuta maculata), spikerush (Eleocharis calva), fowl
mannagrass (Glyceria striata), tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia
caespitosa), beggartick (Bidens spp.), narrowlieaf burreed (Sparganium
eurycarpum), common arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), sego pondweed
(Potamogeton pectinatus), and nodding waternymph (Najas flexilis)
[4,6,19].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: The seeds of softstem bulrush are eaten by waterfowl and considered a good to excellent food source in South Dakota [3,9]. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: Softstem bulrush provides good cover for waterfowl, especially in conjunction with common cattail (Typha latifolia) [13]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Softstem bulrush is used in wetland restoration and is best planted vegetatively because it can triple its biomass in one growing season [20]. It is also used to reduce pollutant loads carried by storm water runoff in urban wetlands [25]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Roots of softstem bulrush can be ground into flour or eaten whole. Syrup can be extracted from them [8]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Livestock grazing in wetlands can reduce softstem bulrush [13]. Softstem bulrush will establish from the seedbank following periodic draining and reflooding of marshes [6,22]. However, prolonged draining and reflooding can reduce softstem bulrush stands [18]. In a Minnesota marsh, early to mid-June drawdowns favored softstem bulrush stands in the first 2 years. After the third-year drawdonw, bulrush began to decrease in water depths greater than 15 inches (38 cm). Eventually it was eradicated from all areas reflooded annually [18].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Softstem bulrush is a tall, leafless marsh plant 1.5 to 9 feet (0.5-3 m) high and 0.12 to 0.8 inches (0.3-2 cm) thick with scaly, stout, horizontal rhizomes [11]. The stems are obscurely three-sided and spongy [17]. Spikes occur near the stem tips in branched clusters [8]. The fruit is an achene [11]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Softstem bulrush reproduces by both rhizomes and seeds [11,17]. It reproduces well from seed stored in the seedbank [18]. Soil-stored seed can remain viable for as long as 20 years [31]. In the lab, seed viability in dry storage is more than 2 years [14]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Softstem bulrush grows in marshes, along lake and stream shores, and in wet meadows. It grows in fresh or brackish water [5,16,23]. Soils are usually poorly-drained [5], or continually saturated [12]. Softstem bulrush grows in silty or peaty soils [18]. Under greenhouse conditions softstem bulrush produced more aboveground biomass in silty clay soils than in clay or sand alone [1]. Belowground biomass was equal in silty clays and clays, and lower in sandy soils. Softstem bulrush seems to grow better in saline conditions than in fresh water, and it tolerates a wide range of salinity [32]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Softstem bulrush is a perennial [17] and is a dominant emergent in the northern plains and prairie states [19]. It is replaced by cattail (Typha spp.) in continuously flooded marshes following drawdown [18]. Softstem bulrush is found in the third sere of succession in Wisconsin marshes, preceded by submerged and floating plant stages and followed by sedge meadows, shrubs, and trees [12]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Because of the wide distribution of softstem bulrush, its growing seasons varies with latitude. In the northeast softstem bulrush flowers from July through August [23]. Flowering lasts from 5 to 6 months in wetland prairies of Nebraska [28]. Fernald [11] reported fruits generally ripening from June through September.

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Softstem bulrush sprouts from rhizomes following fire [27]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Fire topkills softstem bulrush stands [13] and reduces shoot mass of Schoenoplectus species [27]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT: The effects of fire on wetland plants after drawdowns in Utah's Great Salt Lake Marsh were studied [27]. On burned sites new shoots had a lower biomass per inch of length than shoots on unburned sites. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Softstem bulrush sprouts from rhizomes following fire [27]. Fire increases protein content of Schoenoplectus acutus, a closely related species [33]. Wetland vertebrates may select certain marsh plant species due to protein increases following fire [27]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: Prescribed fires were lit in early September following April drawdowns in the Great Salt Lake Marsh [27]. No distinction was made between S. tabernaemontani and Schoenoplectus acutus in this study. Both were referred to as "Scirpus lacustris". Burned and unburned sites were reflooded 1 week following fire. Stands of bulrush on burned sites were similar to those on unburned sites during the first year. Bulrush began sprouting immediately following fire, growing to a height of 1.3 feet (0.4 m) before the first winter. Production did not differ between sites. Waterfowl and muskrats can reduce softstem bulrush through overgrazing, especially following fire [27]. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: No entry

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
REFERENCES: 1. Barko, John W.; Smart, R. Michael. 1978. The growth and biomass distribution of two emergent freshwater plants, Cyperus esculentus and Scirpus validus, on different sediments. Aquatic Botany. 5(2): 109-117. [21915] 2. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 3. Chamberlain, J. L. 1959. Gulf Coast marsh vegetation as food of wintering waterfowl. Journal of Wildlife Management. 23(1): 97-102. [14535] 4. Clambey, Gary K.; Landers, Roger Q. 1978. A survey of wetland vegetation in north-central Iowa. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 32-35. [3304] 5. Cooper, James A. 1978. The history and breeding biology of the Canada geese of Marshy Point, Manitoba. Wildlife Monographs No. 61. Washington, DC: The Wildlife Society. 87 p. [18122] 6. Currier, P. J.; Davis, C. B.; Vander Valk, A. G. 1978. A vegetation analysis of a wetland prairie marsh in northern Iowa. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q., Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August 22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 65-69. [3346] 7. Dirschl, German J.; Dabbs, Don L.; Gentle, Garry C. 1974. Landscape classification and plant successional trends in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Canadian Wildlife Service Report Series 30. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Wildlife Service. 33 p. [6177] 8. Elias, Thomas S.; Dykeman, Peter A. 1982. Field guide to North American edible wild plants. [Place of publication unknown]: Outdoor Life Books. 286 p. [21103] 9. Evans, Keith E.; Kerbs, Roger R. 1977. Avian use of livestock watering ponds in western South Dakota. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-35. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 11 p. [19330] 10. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 11. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press. 1632 p. (Dudley, Theodore R., gen. ed.; Biosystematics, Floristic & Phylogeny Series; vol. 2). [14935] 12. Frolik, A. L. 1941. Vegetation on the peat lands of Dane County, Wisconsin. Ecological Monographs. 11(1): 117-140. [16805] 13. Furniss, O. C. 1938. The 1937 waterfowl season in the Prince Albert District, central Saskatchewan. Wilson Bulletin. 50: 17-27. [14636] 14. Garbisch, Edgar W.; McIninch, Suzanne. 1992. Seed information for wetland plant species of the northeast United States. Restoration & Management Notes. 10(1): 85-86. [19412] 15. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 16. Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New York Botanical Garden. 910 p. [20329] 17. Godfrey, Robert K.; Wooten, Jean W. 1979. Aquatic and wetland plants of southeastern United States: Monocotyledons. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 712 p. [16906] 18. Harris, Stanley W.; Marshall, William H. 1963. Ecology of water-level manipulations on a northern marsh. Ecology. 44(2): 331-343. [17808] 19. Kantrud, Harold A.; Millar, John B.; van der Valk, A. G. 1989. Vegetation of wetlands of the prairie pothole region. In: van der Valk, Arnold, ed. Northern prairie wetlands. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press: 132-187. [15217] 20. Kerans, Karen. 1990. Country Wetlands Nursery Ltd. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1): 29-31. [14513] 21. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 22. Lehto, Bruce; Murphy, Jeff. 1989. Effects of drawdown and water management on a seriously eroded marsh. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Biological Report. 89(22): 164-169. [17337] 23. Magee, Dennis W. 1981. Freshwater wetlands: A guide to common indicator plants of the Northeast. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press. 245 p. [14824] 24. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 25. Schueler, Tom; Galli, John. 1990. Pond/marsh detention system key to urban stream restoration. Restoration and Management. 8(2): 115-116. [15042] 26. Shay, Jennifer M.; Macaulay, A. J.; Frego, K. A. 1988. A morphological comparison of Scirpus acutus and S. validus in southern Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66(11): 2331-2337. [21916] 27. Smith, Loren M.; Kadlec, John A. 1985. Fire and herbivory in a Great Salt Lake marsh. Ecology. 66(1): 259-265. [7619] 28. Steiger, T. L. 1930. Structure of prairie vegetation. Ecology. 11(1): 170-217. [3777] 29. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 30. U.S. Department of Agriculture, NRCS. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: https://plants.usda.gov/. [34262] 31. Wienhold, C. E.; van der Valk, A. G. 1989. The impact of duration of drainage on the seed banks of northern prairie wetlands. Canadian Journal of Botany. 67(6): 1878-1884. [13799] 32. Latham, Pamela J.; Pearlstine, Leonard G.; Kitchens, Wiley M. 1991. Spatial distributions of the softstem bulrush, Scirpus validus, across a salinity gradient. Estuaries. 14(2): 192-198. [18172] 33. Smith, Loren M.; Kadlec, John A; Fonnesbeck, Paul V. 1984. Effects of prescribed burning on nutritive quality of marsh plants in Utah. Journal of Wildlife Management. 48(1): 285-288. [8457] 34. St. John, Harold. 1973. List and summary of the flowering plants in the Hawaiian islands. Hong Kong: Cathay Press Limited. 519 p. [25354] 35. Kartesz, John T.; Meacham, Christopher A. 1999. Synthesis of the North American flora (Windows Version 1.0), [CD-ROM]. Available: North Carolina Botanical Garden. In cooperation with the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [2001, January 16]. [38380] 36. Flora of North America Association. 2009. Flora of North America: The flora, [Online]. Flora of North America Association (Producer). Available: http://www.fna.org/FNA. [36990]

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