Comprehensive Description

Read full entry


This perennial sedge is about 1½–3' long with its culms erect or ascending. It often forms loose tufts of leafy culms; the majority of these shoots are sterile and they don't produce floral spikelets. The culms are light green, glabrous, and 3-angled. About 5-10 alternate leaves are produced per culm; for fertile shoots, these leaves are located along the lower one-half of the culm, while for sterile shoots these leaves are located along the entire length of the culm, including its apex. The leaf blades are up to 7 mm. across and 16" long; they are ascending to arching and rather floppy. The leaf blades are light to medium green, linear in shape, furrowed along the middle, glabrous, and slightly rough-textured along their margins. The leaf sheaths wrap tightly around the culm; the two outer sides of each sheath are light green, longitudinally veined, and glabrous, while its inner side is translucent-membranous. Each fertile culm terminates in an inflorescence up to 2½" long that consists of 5-12 spikelets. These spikelets are partially overlapping to slightly separated along the rachis (central stalk) of the inflorescence. The spikelets are gynecandrous (staminate florets are located at the base of the spikelets, while pistillate florets and their perigynia are located above).  Individual spikelets are 6-10 mm. in length, obovoid in outline, and prickly in appearance because of the beaks of the ascending perigynia. The perigynia are 3-5 mm. long, 1.25–1.75 mm. across, and flattened-lanceoloid in shape, tapering to slender beaks. The bases of perigynia are somewhat wedge-shaped, while their upper halves have narrowly winged margins. The pistillate scales are 2-3 mm. long and lanceolate in shape; they are green-veined in the middle, while their margins are membranous. Immature spikelets are light green, while mature spikelets become light brown. At the base of the lowest spikelet in an inflorescence, there is usually a green bract that is linear in shape and ½" in length or longer; the second lowest spikelet may have a conspicuous bract at its base as well. The blooming period usually occurs during early to mid-summer, although some plants occasionally bloom later. The florets are cross-pollinated by the wind. Mature achenes are about 1.5 mm. in length, broadly oblongoid and somewhat flattened in shape, glabrous, and brown; both the top and bottom of each achene are apiculate (tapering abruptly into short narrow tips). The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. This sedge often forms small colonies of plants. Cultivation


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!