Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

leaf Main Plant Information





Hawaiian Names with Diacritics

  • Kaluhā
  • Naku
  • Neki
  • Nānaku
  • ʻAkaʻakai
  • ʻAkaʻakai naku

Hawaiian Names

  • Akaakai
  • Akaakai naku
  • Kaluha
  • Naku
  • Nanaku
  • Neki

Common Names

  • Common club-rush
  • Giant bulrush
  • Great bulrush
  • Greater bulrush
  • Grey club-rush
  • Lakeshore bulrush
  • Softstem bulrush
  • Tule


  • Schoenoplectus lacustris
  • Schoenoplectus lacustris subsp. validus
  • Schoenoplectus validus
  • Scirpus lacustris
  • Scirpus wahuensis
  • Scripus validus

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No 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.

Life Span

Long lived (Greater than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Container
  • Ground Cover
  • Hedges
  • Screening
  • 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


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

Flower Colors

  • Brownish
  • Red

Additional Flower Color Information

ʻAkaʻakai has numerous egg-shaped rusty brown spikelets.

Blooming Period

  • Year Round

Additional Blooming Period and Fruiting Information

This very tall sedge is a perennial.

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

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]

Leaf Colors

  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

Additional Leaf Color Information

Stalks are dull green.

leaf Pests and Diseases

Additional Pest & Disease Information

This rush is prone to ants, scale, mealy bugs and aphids.

leaf Growth Requirements


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]

Pruning Information

Trim spent or bent over stalks in landscape settings.

Water Requirements

  • Wet

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


Light Conditions

  • 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]

Spacing Information

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
  • Heat


  • Clay
  • Sand
  • Organic

Special Growing Needs

Needs to be grown in water with constant moisture.

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Niʻihau
  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Hawaiʻi

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.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

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). [4]

Early Hawaiian Use

Never cultivated by early Hawaiians, but wild plants were used. [2]


They were also used as mulch. [6]

Household Furnishings:

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]

House Construction:

The leaves were also used for house thatching as they did with grass or ti (kī). [5]


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). [6]

Modern Use

In the mid-1900's, truck farmers in the islands used these bulrushes as string to tie vegetables into bundles. [5]

Additional References

[1] Arts and Crafts of Hawaii" by Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter H. Buck), pages 131-132.

[2] "Plants of the Canoe People" by W. Arthur Whistler, page 189.

[3] "Niihau--The Traditions of an Hawaiian Island" by Rerioterai Tava, page 34.

[4] "The Names of Plants" by David Gledhill, page 369.

[5] "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie C. Neal, pages 88-89.

[6] "Hawaiian Ethnobotany Online Database" [Accessed 1/29/13]



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