Localities documented in Tropicos sources
United States (North America)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- USDA, NRCS. 2007. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/100004579
larva of Cerodontha geniculata feeds within stem? of Eriophorum
Foodplant / saprobe
immersed, linearly arranged pseudothecium of Mycosphaerella lineolata is saprobic on dead leaf of Eriophorum
Other: minor host/prey
Foodplant / feeds on
larva of Plateumaris discolor feeds on rhizome of Eriophorum
Evolution and Systematics
The poison produced by cotton grass protects them from lemmings by neutralizing digestive juices, leading to lemming starvation.
"The ability to produce poison may be the cause of one of the most celebrated, almost mythic, events in natural history - the mass suicide of the Norway lemming. These little hamster-like rodents of the Arctic tundra increase in numbers year after year until there is a population explosion, and then hordes of them are said to deliberately drown themselves.
"The cause of this extraordinary behaviour may be the fact, recently discovered, that when lemmings start to feed on the cotton grass and sedges that are their main food, the plants begin to produce a poison which neutralises the lemmings' digestive juices. If the grazing is light, the plants stop doing this after about 30 hours, but if it is intense, as it is when the lemming population reaches its climax, they do so continuously. The effect on the lemmings is not only that they cannot digest their meals. Because they cannot, their bodies produce more and more digestive fluids, draining their physical resources and bringing them even closer to starvation. As a consequence, the more they eat the hungrier they get, and when having stripped the surrounding tundra they reach the edge of the sea or a lake, they swim out into it, in a frenzied attempt to find some food somewhere that will sustain them." (Attenborough 1995:72)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||123||Public Records:||31|
|Specimens with Sequences:||169||Public Species:||8|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||152||Public BINs:||0|
|Species With Barcodes:||18|
Locations of barcode samples
Eriophorum (cottongrass, cotton-grass or cottonsedge) is a genus of about 25 species of flowering plants in the family Cyperaceae, the sedge family. They are found throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere in acid bog habitats, being particularly abundant in Arctic tundra regions.
They are herbaceous perennial plants with slender, grass-like leaves. The seed heads are covered in a fluffy mass of cotton which are carried on the wind to aid dispersal. In cold Arctic regions, these masses of translucent fibres also serve as 'down' – increasing the temperature of the reproductive organs during the Arctic summer by trapping solar radiation.
Selected species 
The following species are included:
- Eriophorum angustifolium Honck.
- Eriophorum × beringianum Raymond
- Eriophorum brachyantherum Trautv. & C.A.Mey.
- Eriophorum callitrix Cham. ex C.A.Mey.
- Eriophorum chamissonis C.A.Mey.
- Eriophorum crinigerum (A.Gray) Beetle
- Eriophorum × fellowsii (Fernald) M.S.Novos.
- Eriophorum gracile Koch
- Eriophorum × gracilifolium M.S.Novos.
- Eriophorum humile Turcz.
- Eriophorum latifolium Hoppe
- Eriophorum × medium Andersson
- Eriophorum × polystachiovaginatum Beauverd
- Eriophorum × pylaieanum Raymond
- Eriophorum × rousseauianum Raymond
- Eriophorum scabriculme (Beetle) Raymond
- Eriophorum scheuchzeri Hoppe
- Eriophorum tenellum Nutt.
- Eriophorum tolmatchevii M.S.Novos.
- Eriophorum transiens Raymond
- Eriophorum vaginatum L.
- Eriophorum virginicum L.
- Eriophorum viridicarinatum (Engelm.) Fernald
- "Eriophorum L., Sp. Pl.: 52 (1753)". eMonocot. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
- Ball, Peter W. & Daniel E. Wujek (2002). Eriophorum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 52. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 27. 1754. In Flora of North America Editorial Committee. "Cyperaceae". Flora of North America North of Mexico 23 (Oxford University Press). pp. 21–27. ISBN 978-0-19-515207-4.
- Flora Europaea: Eriophorum
- Crawford, R. M. M. (1989). Studies in Plant Survival. Blackwell Science. pp. 54–55.
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