T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Eleocharis sphacelata (Tall spike rush)

Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Eleocharis
Species: E. sphacelata
Binomial name: Eleocharis sphacelata
Common names: Tall spike rush, Bamboo spike sedge, Giant spike rush, kuta, kutakuta, kūkuta, ngāwhā, paopao

Eleocharis sphacelata is a monocotyledon in the family Cyperaceae (sedge family). It is native to New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. In New
Zealand, it is a widespread species occurring in shallow, freshwater habitats from the coast inland to about 800 m above sea level. 
It is an erect rhizomatous, perennial, grass-like sedge. It forms dense swards of large, upright; bright-green or yellow-green, cylindrical stems (culms) that resemble spikes. They arise from woody underground stems (rhizomes). The stems can emerge as much as 1.5 m above the water surface, and the total stem length may be as much as 3.5 m. The stems are round in cross-section, hollow and thin walled. The stem interior is divided into sections by regular cross walls (septa), about 1 cm apart.
The plant’s leaves are a single grey or brown papery sheath around the base of the stem, with an oblique opening through which the stem emerges.
Eleocharis sphacelata will grow in 0.5 m to 3 m deep water. It tolerates deepwater situations, where photosynthesis does not occur or where there is no oxygen available to aid growth.
Flowering occurs between February and October. Tiny white flowers are on a solitary inflorescence top of each erect reed stem.

In New
Zealand, Eleocharis sphacelata is used in the restoration of existing and new wetland communities and in the constructed wastewater treatment systems.
Eleocharis sphacelata is threatened by introduced Chinese grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) which are now established in many North Island waterways. It is very palatable to grass carp and can be completely eliminated, along with other aquatic plants, from water bodies with heavy carp infestations.

Eleocharis sphacelata was highly valued by early Māori in some rohe (tribal areas) for its soft fibre and for its soft fibre and thermal qualities. It was used independently or in conjunction with a diverse range of other plant species such as Phormium tenax (harakeke), Typhaorientalis (
raupo), and Cortaderia spp. (toetoe) in the weaving of clothing, hats, kete and mats. The long culms were first placed under matting for about 3 days to flatten, then woven into soft hats, mats, and kete. The culms when they dried out turned to an attractive golden-brown colour.



 A solitary inflorescence top of an erect reed stem.

The inflorescence

Thanks to Wikipedia for text and information: