What is Eleocharis?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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Eleocharis is a large genus of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants found in many regions of the world. These plants are members of the sedge family and in addition to being abundantly distributed in the wild, they are also grown in cultivation in several regions by gardeners and aquarists. Some species also have commercial uses, such as E. dulcis, the Chinese water chestnut. Nurseries and stores stocking aquatic plants sometimes stock or can order Eleocharis species.

Members of this genus produce tall stems topped with flowers. The leaves have been reduced to the form of primitive sheaths around the bases of the stems. The plants spread with the use of runners known as rhizomes underground, and grow in dense, spreading mats. Some, like the water chestnut, develop tubers attached to their rhizomes. The tubers store energy for the parent plant, allowing it to survive through cold or inclement weather.

Entirely aquatic species grow fully submerged in lakes, ponds, and rivers. They may prefer still or running water, depending on the species. Some aquarists use aquatic species for creating rich carpets of greenery in their tanks and water gardens. The plants grow and spread readily, making them a good choice as a foundation planting in a water garden as long as people can remain attentive and periodically thin out the Eleocharis to prevent it from taking over.


Other species grow with their roots submerged and their stems above water. They can be cultivated in water gardens and along the edge of ponds and other water features. Growing in containers can limit spread, for people concerned about a takeover of the garden. The plants can be easily propagated through division of existing and established plantings. Gardeners interested in cultivating Eleocharis can ask other gardeners about the possibility of trading or selling.

Good companion plantings for Eleocharis species include other aquatic plants of varying shapes and sizes. The tall, straight stems can be good filler in a water garden or may be used as a background planting to set off a more visually interesting and striking plant. Especially large plants can make poor companions, as their size may overwhelm the sedges visually.

If Eleocharis is unwanted, it must be dug out carefully to remove as many of the roots as possible. For tuber-producing species, sifting of the soil or mud is recommended to remove tubers once the parent plants have been uprooted. Planting a fast-growing species in replacement can limit the possibility of return.



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