Description of the cotton grass plant, recommendations for planting and care in the garden, how to properly reproduce, notes for the curious, species.
Fluffy (Eriophorum) was previously called Poohonos. The plant is included in the Cyperaceae family. The genus has united about 20 different species of flora representatives, which grow in the Northern Hemisphere. They prefer regions with a cold, temperate climate, but some are found in the subtropical zone. The only species was found in the south of the African continent. If we talk about the territory of the former USSR, then there you can find 14 species that grow in forest zones, as well as in the tundra and the alpine mountain belt. Like all sedges, the preference is given to swamps or other well-watered places.
|Breeds||Seed or vegetative (by division)|
|Open ground transplant terms||Spring|
|Landing rules||The distance between the seedlings should be at least 25-30 cm, if the species is large, then the step is increased|
|Soil acidity values, pH||Below 5, 5 (sour)|
|Illumination level||Sunny flower bed or partial shade|
|Humidity level||High, abundant watering|
|Special care rules||Trimming down puffs|
|Height options||0.4-1 m|
|Flowering period||April June|
|Type of inflorescences or flowers||Ears forming umbellate inflorescences|
|Color of flowers||White or reddish|
|Fruit color||Yellowish brown|
|The timing of fruit ripening||Summer|
|Application in landscape design||Decoration of artificial and natural reservoirs, for cutting, like dried flowers|
The genus got its name thanks to the word in Greek "eryon", which translates as "down" or derived from it "eriophoros", meaning "carrying down". It is clear that people have long paid attention to the attractive flowers of the plant, reminiscent of the downy feathers of birds. Its name is often synonymous with "cotton grass", all because of the same similarity in the shape of the inflorescences.
All representatives of the cotton grass genus are perennials with a herbaceous form of growth, characterized by the presence of rhizomes. The latter can take on creeping outlines (since in the species of narrow-leaved cotton grass - Eryophorum angustifolium), spreading in a horizontal plane or differ in a shortened shape (for example, in the vaginal cotton grass Eriophorum vaginatum), but then the plant begins to form bumps. The height of the stems can vary from 40 cm, reaching 0.7–1 m.
The stems of cotton grass grow solitary or are close together, their shape is cylindrical or there are three faces on the surface. Sheet plates can take a narrow-linear or linear shape. The foliage is also flat or triangular. Those leaves that grow in the root zone are much longer than the stem ones. The latter can be reduced almost to the vaginas (what is the difference between the vaginal cotton grass).
The flowering process of the puffball occurs in the period from April to June. In this case, a large number of bisexual flowers are formed, each of which is enclosed in the axils of the covering scales. The scales are characterized by a spiral arrangement and filmy outlines. Through the flowers, spherical or oval spikelets are formed, which are then collected in umbellate inflorescences. Such inflorescences usually crown the tops of the stems. The perianth is a whitish or reddish hair that is soft and smooth. Their number is very large, but some species have only three pairs. When flowering is over, such hairs begin to lengthen greatly, while their length greatly exceeds the performance of the fruit itself, thereby forming a fluffy, head-like “puff”. It is these puffs that become the decoration of cotton grass.
There are only three stamens in flowers, and the only pistil. The fruit of the cotton grass is a nut with three or four facets. The length of such a nut varies within 1.5–3 mm. The nose of the fruit is shortened. The color of the fruit takes on a yellowish brown hue. It has been noticed that some types of puffball are distinguished by the property of growth, while still under snow cover in winter.
The plant is very decorative and can be used to decorate the artificial silt of a natural reservoir in the garden. At the same time, cultivation and care will not require much effort from the gardener, and then this representative of the flora will become a real decoration of the site.
Rules for planting cotton grass and caring for it in the open field
- Landing place It is recommended to select cotton grass based on its natural preferences - that is, the proximity of water is important, as for all species of the sedge family. Better if these are the shores of natural or artificial reservoirs. Preference is given to a site for this plant, located in a sunny place, but it can grow well in partial shade, loves the presence of acidic water.
- Temperature when caring for a downy nose, it is an important factor when growing in the northern and middle regions, since the plant is frost-resistant and can withstand even very severe frosts. This makes it possible not to worry about shelter for the winter or protection of the bushes for this period.
- Soil for cotton grass picks up saturated with peat and silt, with an acidic reaction (pH below 5, 5). A heavy and dry substrate is not suitable for planting. Usually the best soil mix will be a well-drained soil layer and high moor peat.
- Planting cotton grass. Here the question is in obtaining viable seedlings, so if there are no seeds or cotton grass bushes growing on the site, then it will be problematic to bring such an exotic from the swamp. This is due to the fact that the root system of the plant does not tolerate prolonged drying and can be easily injured. It is clear that all this does not contribute to the normal engraftment of the puffy nose in a new place. If there are bushes of this representative of the flora in the garden, then they can be transplanted. Such manipulation should be carried out in the spring, when the soil is still full of moisture, but the heat indicators are already at least 15 degrees. Before planting, it is imperative to dig up the substrate and add high-moor peat to it. Since in nature the rhizome is shallow, the pit for a seedling of cotton grass should not be deeper than 5–10 cm. It is possible to arrange seedlings at a distance of 25–30 cm, but if the height of the stems of the variety is large, then this indicator is increased. Planting must be done very quickly, since the roots do not like to be in the air for a long time. Otherwise, it will negatively affect the chubby seedling. If there is no way out, then the bush is placed in a container with water. After the plants are planted, abundant watering and mulching with peat crumbs or spruce (pine) needles is required. Since the rhizome tends to grow strongly over time, you should take care of its limitation when planting. So around the perimeter, you can dig in roofing material or just plant the bushes in old plastic buckets without a bottom.
- Watering when caring for cotton grass is the most important aspect, unless the plant is placed in lowlands where moisture accumulates or on the banks of water bodies. It is necessary to monitor so that the soil does not dry out. This is especially important from the beginning of the growing season to the end of flowering.
- General advice on care. Since the downy heads of cotton grass will remain on the peduncles for a long time after the flowering process is completed, it is recommended to cut them in the spring. Due to the branched rhizome, it is necessary to take measures to aggressively capture the nearby territory by the downy nose.
- Fertilizers. Since in nature cotton grass prefers peaty and silty soils rich in nutrients, it is recommended to periodically mix both peat crumbs into the substrate and feed with special organic preparations. Such means can be bird droppings or well-rotted manure, you can use nitroammophoska or urea to build up deciduous mass. Top dressing should be applied simultaneously with watering.
- Blank the raw material from cotton grass is carried out in the summer. Foliage and white fluffy heads are used for medications. After the material has been thoroughly dried in a dry and well-ventilated area, it is folded using paper bags and kept dry.
- The use of cotton grass in landscape design. The plant really looks very impressive in large numbers and it makes sense to decorate rockeries and gardens of heather crops with such plantings. You can place individual bushes of cotton grass in such places, but it is best to plant them in an array. Since the inflorescences may not lose their original appearance for a long time, they are often used in cutting, making up dry bouquets. Due to the fact that cotton grass has a powerful rhizome, it is not recommended to place any representatives of the flora nearby, as it will simply displace the “neighbors” from the site. With the help of undersized varieties, you can decorate lawns, but here you will have to constantly fight against growing shoots.
Only mosses and lichens, which are capable of retaining moisture in the soil, are recommended to be placed next to such an exotic plant that does not tolerate any neighborhood.
See recommendations for growing the marsh plant in ponds or aquariums
How to properly reproduce cotton grass?
Basically, young bushes of cotton grass can be obtained by sowing the harvested seed material or dividing the curtain - vegetatively.
Cottongrass propagation using seeds
The best time for this is spring. Seed material is sown directly on a prepared bed in the open field, but this should be done only if the ambient temperature does not drop below 15 degrees (that is, the period from late May to early June) and return frosts will not return. Despite the fact that the plant comes from rather cold climatic conditions, warmth is needed for its seedlings. Watering is required after sowing. It is important to monitor that the soil is always moist and does not dry out. Poohonos can easily reproduce by self-seeding.
If there is no interest in spontaneous reproduction, then fruits that can be carried by the wind should be removed in a timely manner.
Cottongrass propagation by dividing the bush
This process also takes place in the springtime. Since the rhizome has the ability to grow easily, the bush can take up more and more space. It is better to periodically divide the cotton grass bush to limit the seizure of the territory. To do this, using a pointed shovel, a piece of rhizome is cut off, with a small number of stems and recovery buds. Delenka is quickly planted in a new place and watered.
Notes for the curious about the cotton grass plant
Since the plant prefers swampy areas, it takes part in peat formation, which results in the formation of "food peat". In the northern regions, the down-puff is suitable for food for reindeer, which dig the plant out from under the snow cover and eat last year's foliage and rhizomes. But if we talk about domestic animals, cotton grass is suitable for food only in spring, when its stems and foliage are still very soft and they contain a large amount of sugars and vitamins, along with proteins and microelements.
Cotton grass is called cotton grass due to the fact that in ancient times the downy heads of the plant were used for stuffing pillows, and they were also used in the production of various paper products (for example, wicks, hats or tinder). This material was mixed with sheep's wool when woolen fabrics, silk or cotton products were made.
The variety of cottongrass vaginal (Eriophorum vaginatum) has been known since ancient times by folk healers because of its diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. Preparations made on the basis of this type of puffy nose contributed to the elimination of pain and cramps, as a sedative. Such remedies were recommended for patients suffering from indigestion and intestinal disorders, with arthritis and rheumatism, could help epileptics or with nervous disorders. Also, the substances that make up the cotton grass have an anthelmintic and astringent effect, they were recommended by folk healers to take from tapeworms or for diarrhea. Lotions and infusions on cotton grass will help in the treatment of skin diseases; on the basis of decoctions, you can prepare baths or take as tea.
Contraindications to the use of preparations based on cotton grass are:
- period of pregnancy and lactation;
- the child's age of the patient;
- individual intolerance due to insufficient knowledge of the representative of the flora.
Description of cotton grass species
Vaginal fluffy (Eriophorum vaginatum)
may appear under the names cotton grass or Lumbago white … A perennial herb capable of forming compacted bumps (tussocks) through rhizomes. It is used in traditional medicine. The height of the stems is in the range of 30–90 cm. The color of numerous leaves is green. Their outlines are narrowed, the width can be only 1 cm, since the foliage on the stems is reduced. In the root zone, the leaf plates have a flat or linear subulate shape, with three faces on the surface, and are arranged in three rows. The sheaths of the leaves are closed, devoid of a uvula, or with a narrowed membranous edge or ciliated edge. The stem leaves have swollen sheaths and a rudimentary (underdeveloped) lamina.
The flowering process falls on the period from April to May. The outlines of the inflorescence are capitate, they are composed of one apical spikelet, which reaches 3-4 cm in diameter. The flowers are of no value due to their nondescript appearance, their size is small, while they are bisexual and protogenic (female and male flowers bloom at different times) … The perianth is so reduced that it looks like hairs (bristles), which, when fruits ripen, tend to grow very strongly. It is this that forms a whitish puff, somewhat reminiscent of a cotton piece from afar. The hairs are conducive to spreading through the wind and retention of seeds in moist soil, due to their hygroscopicity. The fruit looks like a nut. The plant remains green even in winter.
In nature, the species prefers to settle on sphagnum and low-lying bogs, it can be found in swampy pine forests, but at the same time it is able to get along well both on dry ground or parts of bogs saturated with water.
Slender Fuzzy (Eryophorum gracile)
in nature, it is settled in sedge and moss bogs, in forests that have undergone waterlogging. The distribution area stretches from a moderately warm climatic zone to the tundra. It is found in the mountainous territory of Europe, Siberia and the North American continent.
The height of the stems does not go beyond 25-60 cm. The rhizome is creeping, horizontal. Narrowed sheet plates with grooves on the surface and three edges. The width of the leaves is about 2 mm. Spikelets during flowering form 3-6 pieces. Flowering stems vary in length, more or less drooping is present. The puffs have a white color scheme, the outlines are obovate. The length of the fruits approaches 3 mm, their color is yellowish-brown. The flowering process, like fruiting, occurs in the summer.
There is a subspecies slender Korean cotton grass (Eryophorum gracile subsp.coreanum) characterized by fruits of a reddish-brown hue, while their maximum length is 4 mm. The name shows that this species is mainly a "resident" of the Korean Peninsula and Japanese lands, it is also not uncommon in the Far East. The distribution area stretches from the tundra to regions with a warm temperate climate.
Broad-leaved fluffy (Eryophorum latifolium)
in nature, it grows in swampy and very wet meadows in the temperate climate of European regions, the Caucasus and the Far East, it is often found on the Korean Peninsula, in the northeastern Chinese regions and in the north of Mongolia.
Due to the fact that the rhizome is not creeping and is shortened, bumps are formed. The foliage is flat, its width varies within 3–8 mm. The color of the leaves is bright green. The height of the stems is in the range of 25–70 cm, they are covered with leaves, the surface is bluntly triangular. The foliage on the stems is shortened, almost flat, on the reverse side of the leaf plate there is a small keel, the leaves are rough to the touch. Pedicels have drooping tops, they have from three to 12 spikelets.
The height of the peduncles is different. In their lower part, 2-3 shortened leaves grow, with sheaths of a dark tone. The length of flowering spikelets reaches 6–10 mm with a width of about 3–5 mm. The color of the spikelets is dark gray. The flowering process takes time from mid-spring to June. The fruits are whitish puffs, which have an almost bell-shaped shape, the bristles of which they are composed are snow-white with branched tops. This type is not durable.
Mushroom Cotta (Eryophorum angustifolium)
may occur under the name Narrow-leaved fuzzy (Eryophorum polystachion). In nature, it grows in swamps with thickets of mosses and sedges, it is found on the muddy soil of river and lake shores, in coniferous forests that have undergone swamping, in taiga and tundra regions. It can grow in the highlands of Europe or the Caucasus, in Siberia and the Far East, in the northeastern regions of China and on the Korean Peninsula; plants are also found on the continent of North America.
The height of the stems is in the range of 20–75 cm, the rhizome is creeping. Foliage has larger or smaller grooves. The width of the leaf plate reaches 3-4, 5 mm, mostly bluish-green color. When flowering, spikelets are formed - 3-5, occasionally 7 pieces, crowning peduncles of different lengths. Peduncles have more or less drooping of the tops. The color of the puffs is snow-white, their outlines are ovoid. The flowering process begins in mid-summer and lasts until the end of August.
Sheikhzer's fluffy (Eriophorum scheuchzeri)
The species comes from rather cold areas (arctic, tundra and forest-tundra), stretching from Scandinavia, Asia, Greenland and North America. The plant can be found in the temperate climate of the Northern Hemisphere (tundra and alpine mountain belt). It bears its name in honor of the naturalist from Switzerland Johann Jacob Scheuchtser (1672-1733), who studied fossil flora and fauna. A perennial with a herbaceous vegetative form, not exceeding 10–30 cm in height. The rhizome has a creeping form, with elongated root shoots, which are the source of the growth of bundles of several leaves and single stems. The size of the puffs is large, they have outlines in the form of an almost perfect ball. The flowering process occurs in July, and the fruits ripen at the end of summer.