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


Isolepis prolifera (Proliferating Bulrush)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Isolepis
Species: I. prolifera
Binomial name: Isolepis prolifera
Synonyms: Cyperus aitonii, Cyperus punctatus, Isolepis erythronegma, Isolepis globose, Isolepis prolifer, Scirpus prolifer.
Common name: Proliferating Bulrush, Budding club-rush, 

Isolepis prolifera is a sedge plant in the family Cyperaceae. It is a slender, tufted, proliferating perennial. It is found in a number of countries around the world, although it is not clear where it is native, and where it is an introduced species. It is found in the North, South and Chatham Islands of New Zealand.

Isolepis prolifera is a perennial plant that grows as a helophyte (marsh plant). It thrives in both eutrophic (rich nutrients) and oligotrophic (low levels of nutrients) wetlands. It can be an aggressive weed of drainages on farmland. It is highly palatable to livestock who often wade out into wetlands seeking it.
Isolepis prolifera has leafless, round stems up to 90 cm tall and 4 millimetres wide. Its leaves are reduced to red or brown sheaths around the base of the stem, sometimes with a small free lobe up to 3 mm long.
During October to January clusters of flowers develop as spikelets, 2–10 mm long and 1–2 mm wide. Many of the spikelets are, however, replaced by branchlets, each 2–7 cm long, and terminating in a further head of spikelets. This proliferation into branches gives the species its scientific name prolifera. Each spikelet consists of up to 30 flowers, and the fruit (December to April) is a nutlet with fine reticulations on its surface.