Cotton Grass

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Cotton Grass, Vancouver Island, BC
Cotton Grass, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

Cotton grass is not grass at all, although they are close relatives. They are in fact sedges. There are about 25 species of cotton grass, all of which grow in boggy conditions. The cotton grass gets their name from the fluffy white fruiting head that appears in June and July. This fluffy white cotton was once used to stuff pillows, as an alternative to goose down. However, the strands are not long enough to spin into thread or weave into cloth. As its other common name, Bog Cotton might suggest, this is a plant of very damp peaty ground.

Its leaves mostly arise from the base of the plant, often being tinged with red or brown. It has tiny insignificant little brown flowers in April and May but it is really when it is in fruit that this becomes the most eye-catching and attractive plant.

Borne on 30 to 50cm high, cylindrical stems, the little seeds are held in fluffy, downy, white tufts which quiver and shake in the wind, a most effective dispersal method. This is a native pant of Canada and grows over the whole country.

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