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North Dakota's

Federally Listed Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate Species – 1995


Wolf's Spike-rush (Eleocharis wolfii)

GIF -- species photo gif--species map

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Status: Former Candidate (Note: As of February 28, 1996, this species is no longer listed as a Candidate species. However, it remains a species of management concern.)

Historical Status:
Wolf's spike-rush was historically found throughout parts of the Midwest and Mississippi Delta. The only collection records from North Dakota took place in 1901 and 1910 in Fargo, and it is possibly extirpated from the state.

Present Status:
Wolf's spike-rush has a wide distribution, but it appears to be rare or infrequent throughout its range. Attempts to re-locate this species in North Dakota have failed. The last sighting of Wolf's spike-rush in Minnesota occurred in 1967 and it is believed to be extirpated from Ohio, New York and Wisconsin.

Habitat:
The preferred habitat of Wolf's spike-rush in North Dakota is not known. It appears to be restricted to moist settings in prairie habitat.

Life History:
Wolf's spike-rush is a spring perennial (lives for several years) that initiates growth in early May. Fruits appear from late May through July. The fruits are small, dry, and one-seeded.

Aid to identification:
Wolf's spike-rush is a small tufted plant (4-16 inches). Its stems are flat and the leaves are greatly reduced. A single rounded spikelet (flower cluster) occurs at the tip of each stem. Thc spikelet is comprised of several rows of overlapping scales, with the lowest ones being thick, purple and leathery. Its fruits are ribbed. All rushes are extremely difficult to identify. Identifying this species can only be accomplished by careful examination of mature spikelets and fruit with a dissecting scope.

Reasons for decline:
Although this species appears to have always been rare in North Dakota, the amount and rate of decline cannot be documented because there are too few records to detect a clear tread. Recent decline of Wolf's spike-rush in other states is attributed to loss of native grasslands and wetlands to agricultural and urban expansion.

Recommendations:
Notify a natural resources. agency of any suspect Wolf's spike-rush sightings.

Comments:
There are about a dozen spike-rushes native or introduced in the Great Plains.

References:
Minnesota's Endangered Flora and Fauna, edited by Barbara Coffin and Lee Pfanmmuller, 1988. Published by the University of Minnesota Press. Flora of the Great Plains, by Great Plains Flora Association, 1988.


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