Hawaiian Names with Diacritics
- ʻAkaʻakai naku
- Akaakai naku
- Common club-rush
- Giant bulrush
- Great bulrush
- Greater bulrush
- Grey club-rush
- Lakeshore bulrush
- Softstem bulrush
- Schoenoplectus lacustris
- Schoenoplectus lacustris subsp. validus
- Schoenoplectus validus
- Scirpus lacustris
- Scirpus wahuensis
- Scripus validus
Endangered Species Status
Plant Form / Growth Habit
- Non-Woody, Spreading
Mature Size, Height (in feet)
- Grass-like, Tall, Greater than or equal to 2.5
Mature Size, Width
ʻAkaʻakai is known to spread up to 8 feet or more in width.
Long lived (Greater than 5 years)
- Ground Cover
- Water Features
Additional Landscape Use Information
The stalks are very tall and suitable as a screening or a free form hedge in water features.
Source of Fragrance
- No Fragrance
Plant Produces Flowers
Additional Flower Color Information
ʻAkaʻakai has numerous egg-shaped rusty brown spikelets.
- Year Round
Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information
This very tall sedge is a perennial.
Additional Plant Texture Information
The round stalks of this bulrush range from 8 to more than 10 feet tall and resemble the leaves of an onion when not in bloom. Inside the stalk is a light weight white pithy material called aerenchyma which, also found in water hyacinth, gives it buoyancy. [Angela Nishimoto, Leeward Community College]
- Light Green
- Medium Green
Additional Leaf Color Information
Stalks are dull green.
Additional Pest & Disease Information
This rush is prone to ants, scale, mealy bugs and aphids.
In containers that hold water, some fertilizer is appreciated but be cautious of too much nitrogen which can produce green algae in water. None necessary in large water features such as fish ponds. The plants will receive nutrient needs from the watery habitat it grows in. Never apply fertilizer in natural wetlands sites. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
Trim spent or bent over stalks in landscape settings.
Additional Water Information
ʻAkaʻakai is best grown directly in the water. But can be grown in very wet locations as well.
Soil must be well drained
- Full sun
Additional Lighting Information
Full sun is optimal but does grow with some shading if it has a few hours of full sun during at least part of the day. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
Plant ʻakaʻakai in clumps of at least a foot wide to ensure there will be sufficient shoots (rhizomes) to spread out and form new stalks. Space clumps of plants at least 1 to 3 feet apart. They will grow together at a slow to moderate rate to form a dense mat. [David Eickhoff, Native Plants Hawaiʻi]
- Waterlogged Soil
- Brackish Water
- Salt Spray
Special Growing Needs
Needs to be grown in water with constant moisture.
Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)
- Less than 150, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- Less than 150, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- Less than 150, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 150 to 1000, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 150 to 1000, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 150 to 1000, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 1000 to 1999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 1000 to 1999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 1000 to 1999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 2000 to 2999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 2000 to 2999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 3000 to 3999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 3000 to 3999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
- 4000 to 4999, 0 to 50 (Dry)
- 4000 to 4999, 50 to 100 (Mesic)
- 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
Additional Habitat Information
ʻAkaʻakai occurs in fresh, brackish and salt water marshes from sea level to 4,000 feet.
ʻAkaʻakai provides an excellent natural component in Hawaiian wetlands for native and migratory waterfowl who use them for food, shelter, and nesting material.
About 80 species are in the rush genus Schoenoplectus, with one indigenous subspecies in the Hawaiian Islands.
The generic name Schoenoplectus is from the Greek schoinos, rush, and plektos, plaited or twisted.
The secific name tabernaemontani is named for Jacob Theodore Mueller von Bergzabern of Heidelberg (1520–1590), physician and herbalist (his Latinization of Bergzabern). 
Early Hawaiian Use
Never cultivated by early Hawaiians, but wild plants were used. 
They were also used as mulch. 
The stems were dried before plaiting. The stems were used whole or split. Then one or two of the lower layers of coarse mats (hikieʻe) were placed directly on the pebble floors over which the more precious lau hala mats were used to prevent them from wearing out. [1,2,3,5]
The leaves were also used for house thatching as they did with grass or ti (kī). 
Medicinally, the root was used with green kukui fruit and flowers, ripe noni fruit, and kō kea (white sugarcane) for treating ʻōpū ‘aki hikoko (severe stomach aches or intestinal ailments, and internal hemorrhaging). 
In the mid-1900's, truck farmers in the islands used these bulrushes as string to tie vegetables into bundles. 
 Arts and Crafts of Hawaii" by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter H. Buck), pages 131-132.
 "Plants of the Canoe People" by W. Arthur Whistler, page 189.
 "Niihau--The Traditions of an Hawaiian Island" by Rerioterai Tava, page 34.
 "The Names of Plants" by David Gledhill, page 369.
 "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, pages 88-89.
 "Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database" http://data.bishopmuseum.org/ethnobotanydb [Accessed 1/29/13]
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Other Nursery Profiles for Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani