Schoenoplectus californicus

Californian bulrush

Also known as:

Californian bullrush

Family: Cyperaceae

Origin: North America

Californian bulrush in a shallow stream.
Californian bulrush has orange/brown flowers that form in clusters at the tips of the stem. These then turn into nut like seeds.
Photo credit: Sara Brill

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Dense, clumping, rhizomatous rush < 4 m tall. Stems are triangular. Flowers are small, brown and borne in drooping inflorescences in November – April. Nuts are small and cream/grey.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Californian bulrush. As Californian bulrush is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Californian bulrush within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Californian bulrush on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Brackish riparian margins and estuaries, drainage ditches, pasture.


Vegetative spread from rhizomes, dispersed by water.

Impact on environment

Forms dense stands, excluding native sedge species. Potential to alter soil conditions by stabilising sand bars and river margins.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

A close up photo of the light brown flowers of the Californian Bulrush.
Flowers are borne in drooping inflorescences in November – April.
Photo credit: Photographed at BioTrek. Contributed and © by Curtis Clark.