Awl-Fruited Sedge, Carex stipata

Awl-Fruited Sedge

Carex stipata

Benefits: Pollinator Benefit Graphic
Sun Shade: Plant Light Requirements Graphic
Bloom Time: Late spring/Early Summer
Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Wet
Color: Green
Fragrance: No
Height: 1-3 feet
Spacing: 1 foot

Awl-fruited Sedge, Carex stipata, also called Awlfruit Sedge, Awl-fruited Sedge, Fox Sedge and Prickly Sedge, actively grows during the spring and fall when soil temperatures are cool. It is found in areas with full shade or full sun and all sun exposure in between. It is less flexible with its moisture requirements however, needing consistently moist or even wet soils. This may include river banks, shores, floodplain forests, wet meadows, and marshes. The plant is exceptionally well at adapting to change and establishing quickly in wetlands making it an excellent rehabilitation plant. The root system is fibrous and short-rhizomatous.

Leaves are basal and alternate, mostly near the base, 4 to 15 mm wide, shorter than to about as long as the flowering stems. Stem leaf sheaths are convex at the tip, cross-wrinkled on the front, loosely wrap the stem, fragile and easily torn, translucent whitish.

Flowers are a cluster 2 to 4 inches long at the top of the stem, compound with 15 to 25 branches, the lower branches usually distinct with a few stalkless spikes each and the upper branches more obscure often with a single spike. Branches are overlapping, the upper crowded together and the lower branches often slighlty separated from each other.

Fruit develops in late spring through early summer, the pistillate spikes forming clusters of seeds (achenes), each wrapped in a casing subtended by a scale. Pistillate spikes each contain 4 to 10 fruits that are ascending to spreading and crowded on the stalk.

Habitats include moist to wet bottomland woodlands, moist depressions in upland woodlands, swamps, seeps and springs, wet prairies, areas along ponds, and ditches. This sedge is found in both degraded and higher quality habitats.

Carex stipata will not be bothered by visitors of deer and other herbivores. The plant does attract insects and waterfowl though; species of many different caterpillars will eat the foliage of this sedge. The seeds are eaten by birds such as woodcocks, ducks, and swamp sparrows.

 Further Information

 Wisconsin Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
 Widsconsin Edible Plants-Eat On The Wild Side
 8 Dandelion Recipes
 Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries

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