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Illinois Native Plant Guide - Chairmaker’s Rush - Pages 132-133

Illinois Native Plant Guide

Chairmaker’s Rush
Scirpus americanus (S. pungens)

Preferred Water Depth and Inundation Tolerance

Prefers saturated soil to inundation 16.5 inches deep. Species tolerates seasonally flooded conditions. Also has more than 50% mortality in water depths of more than 20 inches.

Wildlife Value

Serves as an important source of wildlife food. Achenes are eaten by waterfowl such as, pintail, lesser scaup, gadwall, canvasback, ringneck duck, rails, and shorebirds. Muskrats eat stems and rhizomes. Stems provide habitat for ducks and small mammals.


Used in lower shoreline zones, for streambank stabilization, and in vegetated swales. Resists wave action and water level changes.

Availability, Establishment, and Maintenance

  • Achenes, tubers, rootstock, and rhizomes are available from several commercial vendors.
  • Achenes have dormancy requirements. Fall collected achenes require cold (34-36o F), wet stratification for 6-12 months and then warm temperatures (75-80o F) to germinate. Fall seeding provides better germination than spring due to the stratifying effects of overwintering. Seeds germinate better with light and alternating temperatures.
  • Rhizomes have good survival when planted in spring through summer. They are planted in saturated substrate at depths of 2-5 inches and on 2-6 foot centers because of their rapidly spreading growth habit.
  • Young, newly established plants should not be totally flooded with water. Manipulation of water levels with drawdowns and flooding are recommended for best establishment results.
  • This species is also sensitive to oxygen depletion.

Chairmaker’s Rush
Scirpus americanus (S. pungens)

Mature Height
Up to 4 feetChairmaker’s Rush

Plant Type
Perennial emergent herb

Indicator Status


Nutrient Load Tolerance

Salt Tolerance

Siltation Tolerance
Low to moderate

Flowering Color and Time
May to September

Light Preference
Full sun

Seeding Rate
.06 - .125 lbs/acre

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