Species At Risk

Bent Spike-rush

(Eleocharis geniculata)
endangered provincially and designated endangered federally
Bent Spike-rush
Bent Spike-rush occurrences map


Bent Spike-rush is a small, green to greenish-yellow, tufted annual sedge with multiple slender, erect stalks. Stalks grow up to 40 cm long, each ending in a single spikelet. The spikelets are composed of at least 10 tiny flowers that produce tiny black seeds. No other tufted Canadian sedges have black seeds.

Action we are taking:


Bent Spike-rush is primarily tropical species. In North America it occurs in the Gulf of Mexico region, with geographically separate populations in British Columbia and the Great Lakes basin. In Ontario, it occurs along the shore of Lake Erie, and at one inland site.


In Ontario, this species is found on wet, sandy to muddy soil in open flats along the shore of Lake Erie. It occurs occasionally along the edges of wet meadows and seasonal ponds further inland.


The greatest risk to Bent Spike-rush in Ontario is habitat degradation caused by the spread of an invasive species called the Common Reed (a Phragmites species). The Common Reed can spread quickly and forms dense stands, effectively crowding out native wetland plants.


The Bent Spike-rush is endangered and receives automatic species protection under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. General habitat protection also protects the species’ habitat from damage and destruction. A recovery strategy and a species-specific habitat regulation are being developed.

The two populations of Bent Spike-rush occurring in Canada (Great Lakes Plains population and Southern Mountain population) have each been assessed nationally as endangered by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

What You Can Do to the Bent Spike-rush

  • Harmful alien organisms whose introduction or spread threatens the environment, the economy or society are called “invasive species.” These invaders seriously threaten many of Ontario’s species at risk. To lean what you can do to help reduce the threat of invasive species, visit: http://www.invadingspecies.com/ ; www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca ; and, www.invasivespecies.gc.ca.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Bent Spike-rush. You can use an online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful! http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/species/species_report.cfm.
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in Butternut recovery. You may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • The Carolinian forests of southern Ontario support an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife, including many species at risk. Carolinian Canada is working to help recover species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: www.carolinian.org/SpeciesHabitats.htm.

Did you know?

The two Ontario locations where Bent Spike-rush grow support fewer than 2,500 plants.

Did you know?

The Bent Spike-rush can store seeds in the soil for years waiting for the right conditions to grow. This strategy, called banking, allows the species to make the most out of future good growing seasons.

Did you know?

Ontario is home to less than one per cent of Bent Spike-rush’s global range.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.