Herb: Cotton Grass

Latin name: Eriophorum angustifolium

Synonyms: Eriophorum polystachyon

Family: Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)

Medicinal use of Cotton Grass:

The leaves and roots are considerably astringent and have been used in the past as a treatment for diarrhoea. Some native North American Indian tribes would eat the stems raw in order to restore good health to people in generally poor health.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Peat bogs, acid meadows and marshes.

Edible parts of Cotton Grass:

Young stem bases - raw or cooked. Usually cooked and eaten with oil. Root - raw or cooked. The blackish covering should be removed.

Other uses of the herb:

The cottony seed hairs are used to make candle wicks. They are also used for stuffing pillows, paper making etc and as a tinder. Experiments have been made in using the hairs as a cotton substitute, but they are more brittle than cotton and do not bear twisting so well. The dried leaves and stems have been woven into soft mats or covers.

Propagation of Cotton Grass:

Seed - sow in situ in spring in a moist soil in light shade. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 6 weeks at 15C. If the seed is in short supply it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. Place the pots in a try of water to keep the compost moist. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be replanted direct into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Peat bogs, acid meadows and marshes.

Known hazards of Eriophorum angustifolium:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.