Plants annual, rarely perennial, usually densely tufted; rhizomes rarely evident, 0.2-0.3 mm thick, internodes 1-5 mm, scales not evident. Culms often ascending or spreading, 4-angled or sometimes terete, sometimes sulcate, 1-7 cm × 0.2-0.3 mm, soft to firm. Leaves: sheaths stramineous, distal sheaths often splitting abaxially, slightly inflated distally, oblique, apex acute. Spikelets ovoid, 1.5-4 × 0.8-2 mm, apex acute; floral scales 4-15, 8 per mm of rachilla, colorless or reddish brown, midrib region green, ovate-lanceolate, not folded lengthwise, 1-1.5 × 0.5-0.7 mm, mibrib obscure to somewhat keeled, apex narrowly acute to acuminate, slightly recurved. Flowers: perianth bristles absent; anthers 0.3-0.5 mm. Achenes with angles and longitudinal ridges ca. 6-10, rather prominent, broadly ovoid, less than 2 times longer then wide, (0.55-)0.65-0.75 × 0.3-0.4 mm, apex blunt, trabeculae distinct, 20-30. Tubercles grayish, mostly appressed, pyramidal, often depressed, 0.1-0.2 × 0.1-0.25 mm.
Fruiting spring-summer. Bare, often drying soil of stream alluvium, lake margins, wet meadows; 200-2900 m; Ariz., Calif., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Oreg., Wash.; Mexico (Chihuahua).
Eleocharis bella and E. acicularis seem to be amply distinct; putative hybrids are unknown. The occasional plants of E. bella with evident rhizomes, which include the type, are otherwise identical to plants apparently without rhizomes. Eleocharis bella is very similar to E. cancellata. There is an Illinois collection from Peoria in 1901, from the alluvial banks of the Illinois River.
Cronquist et al. 1977, FNA 2002, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Common Name: beautiful spikerush Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Diminutive, very slender annual forming dense tufts, stems capillary and furrowed 1-8 cm tall. Vegetative: Sheaths stramineous with upper sheaths splitting below, oblique, with an acute apex. Inflorescence: Terminal ovoid spikelets 1.5-3 mm long, 3-15 flowered, with scales 1-1.5 mm long with greenish midrib, hyaline, pale to partly reddish margins, no bristles, 3 stigmas; achene white to slightly yellowish, under 1 mm long, including well defined, short and broad tubercle, body obovoid, rounded and three sided with longitudinal ribs connected with fine, straight cross-ridges, appearing ladder like. Ecology: Found in wet soils along streams and in meadows, likes muddy and springy sites, can be found in drying sites from 5,500-9,000 ft (1676-2743 m); flowers June-September. Notes: Distinctive because of its diminutive size, but if you have a scope the longitudinal ribs on the achene are dead giveaways. Uncertain if this species is found in the network. Faint possibility it is found at Coronado NMem. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Eleocharis is from Greek heleos or helos, a marsh, low ground, meadow and charis, grace, beauty, hence marsh grace, while bella means beautiful. Synonyms: Eleocharis acicularis var. bella, Eleocharis acicularis var. minima Editor: SBuckley, 2010