Plants and Animals

Eleocharis engelmannii Engelmann's spike rush

Key Characteristics

Small annual spike-rush (40 cm) of sandy, intermittently wet soils; stems clumped without rhizomes; achenes somewhat flattened, topped by a narrow pyramidal cap; bristles often absent.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4G5 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from apparently secure to secure
State Rank: S2S3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 1 1989
Berrien 1 1980
Calhoun 1 1974
Jackson 1 1893
Kalamazoo 5 2022
Kent 1 1901
Lake 1 2002
Lenawee 1 2001
Mason 1 2001
Midland 1 1934
Newaygo 1 2015
Presque Isle 1 1937
Wayne 1 1994

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Occurs in areas with a fluctuating water table such as coastal plain marshes, sandy lake edges, dune swales, seepages, sandy marshes, sandy and peaty edges of wetlands, and intermittent wetlands.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Agalinis purpurea (purple false foxglove), Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Calamagrostis canadensis (blue-joint), Carex granularis, C. scoparia, C. stipata, Dichanthelium spretum (panic grass), Eleocharis melanocarpa (black-fruited spike-rush), E. tricostata (three-ribbed spike-rush), Euthamia caroliniana (Lakes flat-topped goldenrod), E. graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod), Fimbristylis autumnalis (autumn sedge), Gentiana andrewsii (bottle gentian), Hypericum majus (larger Canada St. John's-wort), Juncus biflorus (two-flowered rush), J. brachycarpus (short-fruited rush), J. canadensis (Canadian rush), J. effusus (soft-stemmed rush), J. marginatus (grass-leaved rush), Lycopus americanus (common water horehound), Proserpinaca palustris (mermaid-weed), Rhexia virginica (meadow-beauty), Rhynchospora capitellata (beak-rush), Rotala ramosior (tooth-cup), Scirpus cyperinus (wool-grass), Spartina pectinata (cordgrass), Spiraea alba (meadowsweet), Stachys hyssopifolius (hyssop hedge nettle), Viola lanceolata (lance-leaved violet).

Management Recommendations

Principal management need is conservation of sensitive habitats and protection of hydrology. Its habitat is also susceptible to ORV impacts. Prescribed fire may be necessary in lakeplain prairie sites.

Survey Methods

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From fourth week of August to fourth week of September


Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Braun, E. L. 1967. The Monocotyledoneae of Ohio. Cat-tails to Orchids. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 464pp.
  • Crow, G.E. and C.B. Hellquist. 2000. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Northeastern North America. Volume 1. Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, and Angiosperms: Dicotyledons. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. 480pp.
  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 23: Magnoliaphyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae. Oxford University Press, New York. 608pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Godfrey, R.K. and Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States. Dicotyledons. University of Georgia Press, Athens. 712pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Rothrock, P.E. 2009 Sedges of Indiana and the Adjacent States, The Non-Carex Species. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN. 270 pp.
  • Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 921pp.
  • Voss, E. G. 1972. Michigan Flora. Part I. Gymnosperms and Monocots. Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 488pp.