Flowering Rush

       Butomus umbellatus • Class A

Family Name: Butomaceae family (BEW-toh may-see-ee)
Common: Grass Rush, Water Gladiolus
Genus: Butomus (BEW-toh-mus)
Meaning: From Greek bous (ox) and tomos (cutting), referring to the sharp leaf margins
Species: umbellatus (um-bell-AY-tus)
 Meaning: in umbels - referring to the umbrella shaped flower clusters

An emergent, aquatic perennial, Flowering Rush is the sole species of the Butomaceae plant family.  Plants grow from 1 to 5 feet tall, on cylindrical stalks topped by umbrella shaped flower clusters.  Flowers have 3 large pink petals and 3 sepals and bloom from June to August. Its sword-like leaves grow from stout rhizomes, and may be submerged, floating or emerge from water.

 Why Is it a Noxious Weed?

 . It is an invasive aquatic plant that competes with native wetland and shoreline species and can crowd out desirable vegetation.   It is an aggressive colonizer and is difficult to control.  

Where Does it Grow?

Flowering Rush is found in freshwater habitats. It roots in the mud along lake shores, slow moving rivers, irrigation ditches, and wetlands. It typically grows in shallow waters, but can survive in water up to 9 feet deep.


In addition to rhizomes and rhizome fragments, it reproduces by forming vegetative bulbils (little pea-sized bulb like sprouts) on the rhizomes and at the base of the flower stalk.  Some, but not all, plants reproduce by seeds. 
Flowering Rush is difficult to control and research continues on control options.

Control Options:

Flowering Rush is difficult to control and research continues on control options.

Hand digging or suction dredging by hand, before seed set, may be a control option for small isolated infestations or individual plants.   Be careful to remove all root fragments, taking care to disturb the soil around the plant roots as little as possible, as this will spread the rhizome bulbils.  Repeated digging will be required. Remove and dispose of all plant and rhizome fragments away from water.

Since Flowering Rush is found in wetland areas, the use of an herbicide formulated for aquatic settings is required. Please note that aquatic herbicides are restricted for use in Washington State to licensed applicators only. 

For information about the biological control of this or any other noxious weed, see the WSU  Extension Integrated Weed Control Project     

More Information:

 Download our Flyer or visit Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board Here. Photos by Beki Shoemaker, Pierce County Noxious Weed Control Board. 


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