Rare, Threatened and Endangered Plant Fact Sheets

Tawny Cottongrass

photo of Tawny Cottongrass in a Bog 

Tawny Cottongrass, Eriophorum virginicum, in a Bog
Photograph by R. Harrison Wiegand

Tawny cottongrass wears its fluffy seed heads late in the year in Garrett County bogs. Western Maryland bogs were formed shortly after the last Ice Age – up to 18,000 years ago – when the area was mostly tundra. At elevations near 3,000 feet, these unique wetlands remain cool enough to support many high-elevation plants and animals not found in other parts of the state, like the small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) and creeping snowberry (Gaultheria hispida). The dense cover in some bogs has aided the recent comeback of the Black Bear (Ursus americanus).

The Nature Conservancy has been working with the MD Natural Heritage Program to protect a bog called Cranesville Swamp on the Maryland-West Virginia border. More than 500 acres have been purchased already.