Common Cotton-grass

Eriophorum angustifolium

Common Cotton-grass a beautiful species resembling cotton wool balls


Common Cotton-grass is not a grass but a member of the sedge family! It displays white fluffy, cotton-like flower heads that give this beautiful plant its name, and that were once used as a feather substitute in pillow stuffing; to make candle wicks, and to dress wounds during the First World War. It is a tall plant with narrow dark green leaves that have a grass-like appearance. It flowers from late April to June and Common Cotton-grass is an anemophilous species, meaning that the pollination vector is the wind. 


Common Cotton-grass likes open, wet, peaty ground. It can be found in wet bogs, shallow bog pools and acid fens. 

Distribution and threats

It is common in bogs throughout the UK and Ireland, nevertheless it is listed as vulnerable in England’s Red List for Vascular Plants and as scarce in Oxfordshire, where most of the populations have been lost and can now only be found at a at valley north of Spelsbury, at Sutton, Hollybank Marsh and Lye Valley. Drainage, with groundwater extraction and the cessation of grazing at some sites are considered the causes of the decrease of this species in the lowlands.