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: 192
Specimens with Sequences: 250
Specimens with Barcodes: 215
Species With Barcodes: 15
Public Records: 88
Public Species: 11
Eriophorum (cottongrass, cotton-grass or cottonsedge) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cyperaceae, the sedge family. They are found throughout the arctic, subarctic and temperate portions of the 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.
- Eriophorum angustifolium Honck. - widespread across Europe, Asia, North America
- Eriophorum × beringianum Raymond - Alaska including Aleutians; Magadan region of Russia (hybrid E. angustifolium × E. chamissonis)
- Eriophorum brachyantherum Trautv. & C.A.Mey. - Scandinavia, northern Russia, Mongolia, Korea, Alaska, northern Canada
- Eriophorum callitrix Cham. ex C.A.Mey. - Siberia, Russian Far East, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Montana, Wyoming
- Eriophorum chamissonis C.A.Mey. - Siberia, Russian Far East, Korea, Mongolia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, northern and western United States
- Eriophorum crinigerum (A.Gray) Beetle - Oregon, northerwestern California
- Eriophorum × fellowsii (Fernald) M.S.Novos. - Ontario, Maine, Massachusetts (hybrid E. virginicum × E. viridicarinatum)
- Eriophorum gracile Koch - much of Europe; northern and Central Asia; China, Tibet, Mongolia, Alaska, Canada, northern United States
- Eriophorum × gracilifolium M.S.Novos. - European Russia (hybrid E. gracile × E. latifolium)
- Eriophorum humile Turcz. - Altai, Tuva, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Amur
- Eriophorum latifolium Hoppe - much of Europe; Caucasus, Turkey, Mongolia
- Eriophorum × medium Andersson - scattered locations in Finland, Norway, Russia, Alaska, Quebec, Labrador (hybrid E. chamissonis × E. scheuchzeri)
- Eriophorum × polystachiovaginatum Beauverd - France (hybrid E. angustifolium × E. vaginatum)
- Eriophorum × pylaieanum Raymond - scattered locations in Canada and Alaska (hybrid E. chamissonis × E. vaginatum)
- Eriophorum × rousseauianum Raymond - Alaska, Quebec (hybrid E. angustifolium × E. scheuchzeri)
- Eriophorum scabriculme (Beetle) Raymond - Vietnam
- Eriophorum scheuchzeri Hoppe - much of Europe; northern and Central Asia including Siberia, Xinjiang, Himalayas, Alaska, Greenland, Canada, mountains of western United States
- Eriophorum tenellum Nutt. - eastern Canada and northeastern United States from Nunavut and Labrador to New Jersey
- Eriophorum tolmatchevii M.S.Novos. - Krasnoyarsk, Yakutiya
- Eriophorum transiens Raymond - Guizhou
- Eriophorum vaginatum L. - most of genus range
- Eriophorum virginicum L. - eastern North America from Labrador to Tennessee, west to Michigan
- Eriophorum viridicarinatum (Engelm.) Fernald - Canada including Arctic territories; northern United States
- "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
- Flora of China, Vol. 23 Page 174, 羊胡子草属 yang hu zi cao shu, Eriophorum Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 52. 1753.
- Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Crawford, R. M. M. (1989). Studies in Plant Survival. Blackwell Science. pp. 54–55.
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