CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Eriocaulon parkeri

Bruce Sorrie

Heading for profile page
CPC Home Join now
About CPC
CPC National Collection
Conservation Directory Resources
Invasive Plant Species Plant News
Plant Links Participating Institutions
Search CPC
Search    Alphabetical List    Reference Finder    CPC Home

CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Eriocaulon parkeri

Common Name: 
Parker's pipewort
B.L. Robins.
Growth Habit: 
CPC Number: 


Profile Links
 Fish & WildLife

Eriocaulon parkerienlarge
Photographer: Bruce Sorrie
Image Owner: Massachusetts Naturla Heritage Program

Eriocaulon parkerienlarge
Photographer: Bruce Sorrie
Image Owner: Massachusetts Natural Heritage Program

Eriocaulon parkeri is Fully Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Elizabeth J. Farnsworth contributed to this Plant Profile.

Eriocaulon parkeri

This small, herbaceous aquatic plant has a rosette of delicate, grass-like leaves and tiny, white flowers. It occupies fresh to brackish tidal river shores and deltas along the east coast of the United States and Canada. The plant once occurred from Quebec south to North Carolina. However, the species is declining in most states and provinces where it occurs, especially in the southern part of its range. It is presumed to have disappeared from the District of Columbia, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Research and Management Summary:
A number of individuals and institutions are researching different aspects of this species and its habitat, and limited management activities are being carried out.

Plant Description:
Eriocaulon parkeri is an erect herb with thin (2-5 mm wide), tapering leaves 2-6 cm long that grow in a rosette from the spongy base. The leaves are often translucent and show 3-9 nerves with many cross-veins, giving them a distinctive, netted appearance.

The two to four leafless flower stalks (or "scapes") produced by a plant have 4-5 ridges; thus, the scape is angular in cross-section. These flowering stalks are 2.5-10 cm long and bear a button-like cluster of minutely hairy (or hairless) terminal flower heads that are 3-6 mm in diameter. Each tiny, unisexual flower has two sepals and two cream-white petals. A gland that produces nectar is positioned just below the tip of the petal. Plants flower from late July to September and produce capsules bearing two, elliptical 0.5 mm-long seeds.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
District of Columbia
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
State Range of  Eriocaulon parkeri
  Eriocaulon parkeri typically grows on firm, mostly submerged mud or silt-covered gravel or cobbles of open mudflats and tidal marshes in fresh to slightly brackish tidal rivers and estuaries. Plants appear to tolerate a variety of water chemistries (including high to low conductivity and fresh to brackish conditions). Plants occupy portions of the tidal zone that are submerged by daily tides and may be subject to scouring and other disturbance.

In the northern portion of its range, Parker's pipewort is associated with common three-square, annual wildrice, common water-purslane, estuary beggar ticks, Eaton's beggar ticks, and Atlantic mudwort. Closer to the center of its distribution in southern New England and the mid-Atlantic, Parker's pipewort is associated with annual wild rice, common water-purslane, common arrowhead, pickerel weed, Eaton's beggar ticks, pygmy weed, golden club, and arrowleaf (Haines 2001).

  Eriocaulon parkeri is currently reported from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, and Maine, as well as Quebec and New Brunswick in Canada.

Number Left
  Eriocaulon parkeri is known from 50+ current occurrences, 31 of which are in Maine; 5 in Connecticut; 1 in Maryland; 4 in Massachusetts; 8 in New Jersey; 2 in Virginia (Haines 2001).


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Canada N2 5/22/1991  
  Connecticut S1S2 T 5/1/1998  
  Delaware S2 1/16/1992  
  District of Columbia SH NONE 2/6/1991  
  Maine S3 SC 6/28/1990  
  Maryland S2 E 3/11/1992  
  Massachusetts S1 E 9/22/1986  
  New Brunswick S1 6/6/1991  
  New Jersey S2 4/24/1991  
  New York SH U 2/17/1989  
  North Carolina S1 C 8/2/1991  
  Ontario SRF  
  Pennsylvania SX PX 5/8/1990  
  Quebec S2 2/28/1991  
  Rhode Island SRF  
  Virginia S2 RSC 2/22/1991  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Cook (1996) suggests that plants in the Eriocaulaceae family are autogamous (self-pollinated) or entomophilous (insect-pollinated), while Gleason and Cronquist (1991) assume plants are either anemophilous (wind-pollinated) or entomophilous.

Pollination may be affected by tiny mites that crawl around the flower heads of Eriocaulon species (Ruhland 1930, Schuyler 1990). Because these mites are not highly mobile, pollination most likely occurs between flowers on the same head, rather than among plants.

Seeds may be dispersed by wind, water (Schuyler 1990), or waterfowl (Haines 2001).

  Changes in hydrology from tide gates, dams, beavers, etc. that alter river levels and flooding regimes (Haines 2001)
Changes in sedimentation regimes resulting in shoreline erosion or burial of plants
Dredging of habitat and dumping of dredge spoils on habitat (Dowhan and Craig 1976)
Pier or dock construction.
Increased scour of shoreline due to changing patterns of wake from boat traffic
Increasing toxicity of water from leachate, pollution outflows or sedimentation. Such pollution may have contributed to declines in the Delaware River Estuary, for example (Schuyler 1990)

Current Research Summary
  The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) has germinated plants from seed of this species (1994), and the plants flowered. However, all plants died following flowering, indicating that the species behaves as an annual rather than a perennial. The plants germinate after a period of cold, moist storage (either refrigeration/freezing or maintenance over winter outdoors). The closely related congener, Eriocaulon septangulare, germinated with 210 days of cold treatment and a 19oC/15 oC temperature (Muenscher 1936).

Schuster et al. (1999) from the University of Connecticut in Storrs are studying Parker's pipewort phenology and ecology in the Connecticut River estuary. These studies focus on determining the correlation between environmental variables (substrate condition and elevation) and population size and vigor.

Donald Les (1999) and Leslie Mehrhoff, both of the University of Connecticut, are researching the effects of docks and piers on population vitality. This study will examine both the effects of existing coastal structures and recolonization rates in artificially disturbed and control sites.

Contact Botanist David Snyder with the New Jersey Natural Heritage Program for more information on research activities on Eriocaulon parkeri in that state.

Gerry Moore (Brooklyn Botanical Garden), has conducted many botanical surveys documenting occurrences of Eriocaulon parkeri in the Maurice River of New Jersey.

Current Management Summary
  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued a guide to minimizing discharges that impact rare aquatic plant species.

Volunteer task forces of the New England Plant Conservation Program of The New England Wild Flower Society (Framingham, Massachusetts) monitor populations of Eriocaulon parkeri in New England.

Research Management Needs
  Field surveys to document the true distribution of the species
Multi-year demographic studies to assess variability in population numbers and to analyze population viability
Studies of correlations between distribution and habitat characteristics
Field transplant experiments to determine precise habitat requirements of the species
Studies of reproductive biology to determine flowering phenology, pollination mechanisms, pollen viability, seed production, seed longevity, seed dispersal, and seed dormancy and germination

Ex Situ Needs
  Studies are needed of its longevity in seed banks and seed storage, as well as the best methods for reintroduction of seeds or plants.


Books (Single Authors)

Beal, E.O. 1977. A Manual of Marsh and Aquatic Vascular Plants of North Carolina. North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station. 298p.

Bouchard, A.; Barabe, D.; Dumais, M.; Hay, S. 1983. The Rare Vascular Plants of Quebec. National Museum of Canada. 75p.

Broome, C.R.; Tucker, A.O.; Reveal, J.L.; Dill, N.H. 1979. Rare and Endangered Vascular Plant Species in Maryland. Newton Corner, MD: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 64p.

Gauthier, B. 1980. Les limites phytogeographiques du Saint-Laurent. 103p.

Harvill, A.M.; Bradley, T.R.; Stevens, C.E.; Wieboldt, T.; Ware, D.M.E. 1986. Atlas of the Virginia Flora. Farmville, Virginia: Virginia Botanical Associates.

Hinds, H.R. 1983. The Rare Vascular Plants of New Brunswick. National Museum of Canada. 38p.

Hinds, H.R. 1986. The Flora of New Brunswick. Fredericton, New Brunswick: Primrose Press. xxvi + 460p.

Marie-Victorin, F. 1964. Flore Laurentide; entierement revue et mise a jor par Ernest Rouleau. Montreal: Les Presses de l'Universite de Montreal. 925p.

McVaugh, R. 1958. Flora of the Columbia County Area, New York. Albany: New York State Museum. 400p.

Mehrhoff, L.J. 1978. Rare and Endangered Vascular Plant Species in Connecticut. Newton Corner, Massachusetts: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. viii + 98p.

Muenscher, W.C. 1936. Storage and germination of seeds of aquatic plans. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Agricultural Station.

Porter, D.M. 1979. Rare and endangered vascular plant species in Virginia. Newton Corner, Massachusetts: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. v + 52p.

Radford, A.E.; Ahles, H.E.; Bell, C.R. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. 1183p.

Scoggan, H.J. 1978. The Flora of Canada. National Museums of CA, Publications in Botany.

Seymour, F.C. 1989. The flora of New England. A manual for the identification of all vascular plants including ferns and their allies growing without cultivation in New England. Boston: Boston Museum Science. 611 + appendixp.

Snyder, D.B.; Vivian, V.E. 1981. Rare and endangered vascular plant species in New Jersey. Newton Corner, Massachusetts: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. viii + 98p.

Tucker, A.O.; Dill, N.H.; Broome, C.R.; Phillips, C.E.; Maciarello, M.J. 1979. Rare and endangered vascular plant species in Delaware. Newton Corner, MA: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. x + 89p.

Wiegman, P.G. 1979. Rare and Endangered Vascular Plant Species in Pennsylvania. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in Cooperation with The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Books (Sections)

Ruhland, W. 1930. Eriocaulaceae. In: Engler, A., editor. Die Naturlichen Pflanzenfamilien. Wilhelm Engelmann. Leipzig, Germany. p 39-57.

Schuyler, A.E. 1986. Rare plants of the Delaware estuary in Pennsylvania. In: Majumdar, S.K; Brenner, F.J.; Rhoads, A.F., editors. Endangered and Threatened Species Programs in Pennsylvania and Other States: Causes, Issues and Management. The Pennsylvania Academy of Science. Easton. p 156-162.

Conference Proceedings

Buckley, E.H.; Ristich, S.S. Distribution of Rooted Vegetation in the Brackish Marshes and Shallows of the Hudson Estuary. Fourth Symposium on Hudson River Ecology; Bear Mountain, New York. 1976. The Hudson River Environmental; Society, Inc., New York.

Electronic Sources

(2001). Biodiversity portrait of the St. Lawrence. Biodiversity portrait of the St. Lawrence. (Shows maps of the distribution of Eriocaulon parkeri and many other rare plants). Environment Canada. http://www.qc.ec.gc.ca/faune/biodiv/en/recherche/especes/vasc_plants2.html. Accessed: 2001.

Coursol, F. (1999). La situation l'eriocaulon de Parker (Eriocaulon parkeri) au Quebec. Direction de la conservation et du patrimoine ecologique. [Web site] Ministere de l'Environnement et de la faune du Quebec. http://www2.biblinat.gouv.qc.ca/off/of9906l.htm. Accessed: 2002.

MANHESP. (1993). Massachusetts Endangered Plants Fact Sheets. Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program; Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, Massachusetts. http://www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dfw/nhesp/nhfactplt.htm. Accessed: 2002.

Quebec, Ministere de l'Environnement du. Guide des milieux humides: des especes a proteger. http://ecoroute.uqcn.qc.ca/envir/mhum/espece.htm. Accessed: 2001.

TNC. (2001). Places we protect: Middleford North Preserve, Delaware. The Nature Conservancy. http://nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/delaware/preserves/art1026.html. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Caldwell, F.A.; Crow, G.E. 1992. A Floristic and Vegetation Analysis of a Fresh Water Tidal Marsh on the Merrimack River, West Newbury, Massachusetts. Rhodora. 94, 877: 63-97.

Fernald, M.L. 1918. The geographic affinities of the vascular floras of New England, the Maritime Provinces, and Newfoundland. American Journal of Botany. 5: 219-236.

Grimes, E.J. 1922. Some interesting plants of the Virginia coastal plain. Rhodora. 24: 148-152.

Harger, E.B. 1917. Additions to the flora of Connecticut. Rhodora. 19: 105-110, 119-130, 224-232, and 245-253.

Kral, R. 1964. Eriocaulaceae of continental North America south of Mexico. Sida. 5, 285-332

Moldenke, H.N. 1937. Family Eriocaulaceae. North American Flora. 19, 17-50

Moldenke, H.N. 1939. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. I. Phytologia. 1, 9: 309-336.

Moldenke, H.N. 1950. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. IV. Phytologia. 3, 6: 321-344.

Moldenke, H.N. 1969. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. XXII. Phytologia. 18, 6: 344-396.

Moldenke, H.N. 1973. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. XLIII. Phytologia. 26, 1: 15-47.

Moldenke, H.N. 1973. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. XLVII. Phytologia. 26, 6: 455-484.

Moldenke, H.N. 1974. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. XLIX. Phytologia. 29, 3: 193-239.

Moldenke, H.N. 1976. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. LVIII. Phytologia. 32, 6: 487-506.

Moldenke, H.N. 1976. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. LXIV. Phytologia. 34, 5: 485-497.

Moldenke, H.N. 1977. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. LXXII. Phytologia. 36, 5: 468-497.

Moldenke, H.N. 1979. Additional notes on the Eriocaulaceae. LXXXI. Phytologia. 41, 6: 409-430.

Robinson, B.L. 1903. A hitherto undescribed pipewort from New Jersey. Rhodora. 5: 175-176.

Shannon, E.L. 1953. The production of root hairs by aquatic plants. American Midland Naturalist. 50: 474-479.

Sorrie, B.A. 1987. Notes on the rare flora of Massachusetts. Rhodora. 89, 858: 113-196.

Sperduto, D.D. 1997. Alpine. New England Wild Flower Notes. 1, 3: 6,8,11.

Svenson, H.K. 1935. Rare plants from the estuary of the Hudson River. Torreya. 35: 117-125.

Woodward, R.W. 1919. Some Connecticut plants. Rhodora. 21: 114-116.


1999. Rare Plant Fact Sheets. Augusta, Maine, USA: Maine Department of Conservation, Natural Areas Division.

Dowhan, J.J.; Craig, R.J. 1976. Rare and endangered species of Connecticut and their habitats. Hartford, CT: Connecticut Geological and Natural History Survey. p.135.

Haines, A. 2001. Eriocaulon parkeri (Parker's Pipewort) Conservation and Research Plan. Framingham, MA: New England Wild Flower Society. p.45+ iii.

Les, D.H. 1999. Impacts of development on Connecticut's coastal resources: a case study of Eriocaulon parkeri, a state-threatened species. Hartford, Connecticut: Long Island Sound License Plate Fund. Unpublished proposal for project funding.

Mitchell, R.S.; Sheviak, C.J. 1981. Rare Plants of New York State. Bull. No. 445. Albany, N.Y.: New York State Museum. University of the State of New York. p.96.

Muenscher, W.C. 1937. A biological survey of the lower Hudson watershed. VII. aquatic vegetation of the lower Hudson area. New York State Conservation Department Biological Survey. No. 11. p.231-248.

Schuster, L.; Les, D.H.; Metzler, K.J. 1999. Habitat requirements for the state threatened Eriocaulon parkeri (Parker's pipewort). Middletown, Connecticut: The Nature Conservancy. Unpublished proposal for project funding.

Schuyler, A.E. 1990. Element Stewardship Abstract for Eriocaulon parkeri. Trenton, NJ: Department of Environmental Protection and Forestry. p.8. Stewardship Abstract No.: 007.

  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
New Mexico
North Dakota
South Dakota
South Carolina
North Carolina
West Virginia
New Jersey
Rhode Island
New Hampshire
New York
New York