Schoenoplectus acutus (syn. Scirpus acutus, Schoenoplectus lacustris, Scirpus lacustris subsp. acutus), called tule ( /ˈtuːliː/), common tule, hardstem tule, tule rush, hardstem bulrush, or viscid bulrush, is a giant species of sedge in the plant family Cyperaceae, native to freshwater marshes all over North America. The common name derives from the Nāhuatl word tōllin, and was first applied by the early settlers from New Spain who recognized the marsh plants in the Central Valley of California as similar to those in the marshes around Mexico City.
Tules once lined the shores of Tulare Lake, California, formerly the largest freshwater lake in the western United States, until it was drained by land speculators in the 20th century. The expression "out in the tules" is still common, deriving from the dialect of old Californian families and means "where no one would want to live", with a touch of irony. The phrase is comparable to "out in the boondocks".
It has a thick, rounded green stem growing to 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) tall, with long, grasslike leaves, and radially symmetrical, clustered, pale brownish flowers. Tules at shorelines play an important ecological role, helping to buffer against wind and water forces, thereby allowing the establishment of other types of plants and reducing erosion. Tules are sometimes cleared from waterways using herbicides. When erosion occurs, tule rhizomes are replanted in strategic areas.
The two varieties are:
- Schoenoplectus acutus var. acutus – northern and eastern North America
- Schoenoplectus acutus var. occidentalis – southwestern North America
Read more about Schoenoplectus Acutus: History and Culture
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