Cotton-grass is usually recognised by its fluffy, cotton-like, fruiting heads in late summer and autumn; at this time of year they are very different. On Prestwick Carr today the flowering heads were just emerging from the dense tussocks of hair-like leaves. The yellow anthers provided a little colour to the spiky cluster of flowers. It’s wind-pollinated and despite the name it is actually a sedge rather than a grass. March is quite early for flowering but the site centre is very sheltered, a little micro-climate of its own. The flower stems will grow upwards and as the seeds set the more traditional looking bob of cotton will appear.
This is hare’s-tail cotton-grass (or bog-cotton), Eriophorum vaginatum, with its single flower per stem while the rarer common cotton-grass has a hanging cluster of flowers and prefers even wetter places. Both species like bogs, places with waterlogged, peaty soils.