Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: softstem bulrush 
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Native Range: Mexico, United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 4.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to September
Bloom Description: Brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Best grown in standing water (up to 12” deep) or in wet soils in full sun. Tolerates very light shade. In large water gardens, it may be grown in submerged containers. May also be planted in the mud at the margins of ponds or streams or in bog gardens. Clumps may be divided in spring. Naturalizes by creeping rhizomes, and, if left undisturbed in optimum growing conditions, will spread sometimes aggressively to form dense colonies.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, commonly called softstem bulrush or great bulrush, is a rhizomatous emergent aquatic perennial of cosmopolitan distribution that typically grows in a variety of wetlands including the margins of ponds/lakes, banks of slow-moving rivers/streams, marshes, fens, bogs, wet prairies, ditches and wet depressions along roadsides and railroad tracks (see Steyermark). It is native to Canada and the U.S. south to South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. It is found in scattered populations throughout Missouri.

Great bulrush typically forms a slowly-spreading clump of rush-like stems (culms) to 4-8’ tall. Leaf sheaths appear at the base of the stems. Leaf blades are typically absent, but if present are very small (1-4" long). Photosynthesis primarily takes place in the stems. Branched inflorescences (to 6" long) appear at the tips of fertile stem ends in late spring to summer. Each inflorescence contains a compound umbel of brown spikelets each of which contains brownish florets. Each fertile floret gives way to an achene which ripens to gray-brown.

The Plant List currently lists 37 synonyms of this plant including Schoenoplectus lacustris subsp. tabernaemontani, Scirpus tabernaemontani, Scirpus lacustris subsp. tabernaemontani, Schoenoplectus validus and Scirpus validus.

Specific epithet honors Jakob Theodor von Bergzabern (d. 1590) of West Germany. He Latinized his name to Tabernaemontanus.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Large water gardens or bog gardens. Edges of ponds or streams.