Bog cotton (eriophorum angustifolium), Ireland

Bog cotton, eriophorum angustifolium, is like the finest fairy hair.


Bog cotton, eriophorum angustifolium

Eriophorum angustifolium, commonly known as common cotton grass, bog cotton or common cottonsedge, is a species of sedge in the plant genus Eriophorum of the family Cyperaceae. Native to North AmericaNorth Asia, and Northern Europe, bog cotton is often found on peat or acidic soils, in open wetlandheath or moorland. Bog cotton begins to flower in April or May and, after fertilisation in early summer, the small, unremarkable brown and green flowers develop distinctive white bristle-like seed-heads that resemble tufts of cotton; combined with its ecological suitability to bog, these characteristics give rise to the plant’s alternative name, bog cotton.


Bog cotton, eriophorum angustifolium, was used as a substitute in the production of paper, pillows, candle-wicks, and wound-dressings. The indigenous peoples of North America use the plant in cooking and in the treatment of digestive problems. Following a vote in 2002, Plantlife International designated E. angustifolium the County Flower of Greater Manchester, as part of its British County Flowers campaign.

Bog cotton, eriophorum angustifolium,”simply breathtaking”

Bog cotton, eriophorum angustifolium, is described as “a rather dull plant” in winter and spring,[9] but “simply breathtaking” in summer and autumn,[10] when 1–7 conspicuous inflorescences – composed of hundreds of white pappi comparable to cotton,[11] hair,[4] tassels,[9]and/or bristles[3] – stand out against naturally drab surroundings.[9]


Bog cotton (eriophorum angustifolium) is the most common of the four native species of Eriophorum in the British Isles,[7] thriving particularly well in Ireland and northern and western regions of Great Britain, but less so in southern and eastern areas.[3][12] In the mires of Northern Ireland and the South Pennines, it considered a ruderalpioneer and keystone species, because it can quickly colonise and repair damaged or eroded peat, encourage the re-vegetation of its surroundings, and retain sediment and its landscape to serve as a carbon sink.[7][18]