Bog Cotton - Eriophorum angustifolium - Western Isles Red Wildflowers
Bog Cotton - Hebridean Wildflowers
Bog Cotton - really does look like cotton - attached to the stems and blowing in the wind. As the name suggests it grows in boggy peaty conditions here in The Western Isles.
Bog Cotton or cottongrass or ( its other common name) or Hares Tail is is a plant of very damp peaty ground.
It is a member of the sedge family. Even though it looks like a type of grass - it isn't.The stem is 20-70 cm tall, and has three to five cotton-like inflorescence's hanging from the top
Long Narrow Leaves
The long narrow leaves which surround each stem turn from green to red-brown in autumn adding to the bogs overall red hue.Bog Cotton looks exactly like cotton wool growing out of the top of a piece of grass.
Cotton Wool Blowing In The Wind
Bog cotton is of course a bog plant. It looks very much like cotton wool blowing in the wind. The tufts of cottony bristles, drooping from the stems give the plant a strange habit all of its own.
Bog Cotton Likes Shallow Waters
The name "bog cotton" gives you a real clue as to where its habitat here on the Western Isles is. Bog Cotton inhabits shallow, standing water or wet, peaty ground. Rarely still - the cotton blows in the wind
Modified Petals and Sepals
The ‘hairs’ are actually modified petals and sepals that provide with the assistance of the wind - long distance dispersal of the attached seeds.
Pollination Helped By The Wind - Bristles Get Longer
The airborne pollination is helped by the wind and once the plant has been pollinated the bristles get longer and take on the look of the the cotton. Borne on 30-50cm high, cylindrical stems, the little seeds are held in fluffy, downy, white tufts which quiver and shake in the wind, a most effective dispersal method.
Candle Wicks - Pillows - Wound Dressings
Bog Cotton - or Cotton grass used to be used in the past for making the candle wicks and also for stuffing pillows. It was even used in wound dressings during the first world war.
Food for Grouse and Heath Butterflies
Cotton grass also provides food for grouse and also for heath butterflies
Click pictures below for larger photographs