Common cotton-grass

Common Cotton-grass

©Richard Burkmarr

Common cotton-grass

Scientific name: Eriophorum angustifolium
The fluffy, white heads of common cotton-grass dot our brown, boggy moors and heaths as if a giant bag of cotton wool balls has been thrown across the landscape!

Species information


Height: up to 75cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Common cotton-grass is familiar as the fluffy, white seed heads that dot our brown, boggy moorlands and heaths as if someone has thrown a giant bag of cotton wool balls across the landscape. Blowing in the breeze, they bring these isolated places to life in summer. Despite its name, common cotton-grass is a member of the sedge family, rather than being a grass.

How to identify

The white, cottony seed heads of common cotton-grass are extremely distinctive. It has dark green, narrow leaves and drooping flower heads.



Did you know?

Historically, common cotton-grass was used to stuff pillows in Sussex. It was also collected and used in Scotland to dress wounds during the First World War.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heathlands by promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if these habitats are to survive; you can help by supporting your local Wildlife Trust and becoming a member or volunteer.