Herbs & Plants

Eriophorum angustifolium

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Botanical Name : Eriophorum angustifolium
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Eriophorum
Species: E. angustifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Synonyms : Eriophorum polystachyon – L.

Common Name:Cotton Grass, Common cottonsedge,  Bog cotton.

Habitat :Eriophorum angustifolium is native to  Arctic and temperate regions of Europe, including Britain, to Siberia and N. America.It is common in the Manchester area of the United Kingdom, officially the County flower of the Greater Manchester region. It grows in peat bogs, acid meadows and marshes


In the wild, Eriophorum angustifolium is a creeping rhizomatous perennial sedge, with an abundance of unbranched, translucent pink roots. Fully grown, it has a tall, erect stem shaped like a narrow cylinder or triangular prism; it is smooth in texture and green in colour. Reports of the plant’s height vary; estimates include up to 60 cm (24 in),   15–75 cm (5.9–29.5 in),and up to 100 cm (39 in). E. angustifolium has “stiff grass-like foliage” consisting of long, narrow solidly dark green leaves, which have a single central groove, and narrow from their 2–6-millimetre (0.08–0.24 in) wide base to a rust-coloured triangular tip. Up to seven green and brown aerial peduncles and chaffs, roughly 4–10 millimetres (0.16–0.39 in) in size, protrude from umbels at the top of the stem from which achenes are produced after fertilisation, each with a single pappus; these combine to form a distinctive white perianth around 5 centimetres (2.0 in) long.

Eriophorum angustifolium is described as “a rather dull plant” in winter and spring, but “simply breathtaking” in summer and autumn, when 1–7 conspicuous inflorescences – composed of hundreds of white pappi comparable to cotton, hair, tassels, and/or bristles – stand out against naturally drab surroundings.

Eriophorum angustifolium differs from other species within the genus Eriophorum in its habitat and morphology. Its multiple flower heads and growth from rhizomes distinguish it from E. vaginatum, which has a single flower head and grows from dense tussocks. Although E. latifolium has 2–12 flower heads, it has laxly caespitose (tufted) growth, and its pappi are forked. The smooth peduncles and preference for acidic soil pH distinguishes E. angustifolium from E. gracile, which grows in swamp with a neutral pH and has scabrid (rough) peduncles

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It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June,and the seeds ripen from July to August.The flowering stem is 20–70 cm tall, and has three to five cotton-like inflorescences hanging from the top. It is also sometimes referred to as multi-headed bog cotton.   The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires wet soil and can grow in water.

Requires boggy conditions or a pond margin and an acid soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Quite invasive.

Seed – sow in situ in spring in a moist soil in light shade. Germination usually takes place within 2 – 6 weeks at 15°c. If the seed is in short supply it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. Place the pots in a try of water to keep the compost moist. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be replanted direct into their permanent positions.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Root; Stem.

Young stem bases – raw or cooked. Usually cooked and eaten with oil. Root – raw or cooked. The blackish covering should be removed.

Medicinal Uses:


The leaves and roots are considerably astringent and have been used in the past as a treatment for diarrhoea. Some native North American Indian tribes would eat the stems raw in order to restore good health to people in generally poor health.

Other Uses
Paper; Stuffing; Tinder; Weaving; Wick.

The cottony seed hairs are used to make candle wicks. They are also used for stuffing pillows, paper making etc and as a tinder. Experiments have been made in using the hairs as a cotton substitute, but they are more brittle than cotton and do not bear twisting so well. The dried leaves and stems have been woven into soft mats or covers.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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