Plants and Animals

Fuirena pumila Umbrella-grass

Key Characteristics

Rhizomatous, tufted, perennial forb of coastal plain marshes; ranging from 1-6 dm in height, with well-spaced, linear leaves that are hairy or scabrous along the margins with nearly smooth to hairy sheaths; stems terminated by 1-3 clusters of short, stout, bristly spikelets with spreading, recurved awns.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S2 - Imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 1 1975
Barry 2 1976
Cass 3 1988
Kalamazoo 4 2022
Kent 1 1974
Muskegon 4 2006
Oakland 1 1987
St. Joseph 1 1985
Van Buren 3 1988
Washtenaw 2 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.


Usually found in shallow, softwater lakes, potholes, and along lake margins and similar types of seepage wetlands that experience annual and seasonal periods of flooding and drawdown, typically occurring in sandy-peaty to mucky substrates.

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

In coastal plain marshes this species occurs with a number of common and rare taxa known to be disjunct from their main range along the Atlantic Coastal Plain and Gulf Coast, including many annual graminoids.  Common species include such taxa as Robbin's spike-rush, softstem bulrush, Smith's bulrush, blue-joint grass, beak-rush, St. John's-wort, lance-leaved violet, flat-topped goldenrod, prairie cordgrass, nut-rush, twig-rush, toothcup, bladderwort, and many other species of rush, spike-rush, and sedges.  Rare species that may be associated with umbrella-grass include meadow beauty, bald-rush, waterthread pondweed, dwarf-bulrush, netted nut-rush, three-awned grass, dwarf burhead, Hall's bulrush, three-ribbed spike-rush, Vasey's rush, Engelmann's spike-rush, Leggett's pinweed, short-fruited rush, and numerous additional taxa.

Management Recommendations

Primarily requires conservation and protection of hydrology of intermittent wetlands; vulnerable to ORV impacts and dredging and filling of 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 first 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.
  • 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

  • Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth edition, illustrated. D. Van Nostrand Company. lxiv + 1632 pp.
  • 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. 1979. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States. Monocotyledons. University of Georgia Press, Athens. 933pp.
  • Rothrock, P.E. 2009 Sedges of Indiana and the Adjacent States, The Non-Carex Species. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis, IN. 270 pp.