Bur Sedge, Carex grayi

Bur Sedge

Carex grayi

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
Soil Moisture: Medium, Moist, Wet
Color: Green
Fragrance: No
Height: 2-3 feet
Spacing: 1 foot

Bur Sedge (Carex grayi) or Gray Sedge has greenish yellow to brown seed heads that look like spiked clubs and are attractive in both fresh and dried flower arrangements. Fertile shoots of this perennial sedge are about 2–2½ feet tall. Sometimes infertile shoots occur that are shorter. This sedge may consist of a loose tuft of leaves and culms (stems), or it may develop as a solitary leafy culm. Each culm is light green, 3-angled, glabrous, and unbranched; there are several alternate leaves along its length. The leaf blades are up to 14 inches long; they are ascending to widely spreading. The leaf blades are medium to dark green, glabrous, and often longitudinally furrowed. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting about 1-2 weeks for a colony of plants. The florets of the spikelets are cross-pollinated by the wind. Immature pistillate spikelets are light green, but they later become yellowish brown to dark brown. After disarticulation from their spikelets, the inflated perigynia have the capacity to float on water, by which means they are distributed to new areas. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous.

Gray sedge grows best in moist fertile soil in full sun, but will tolerate light shade. It thrives at or near water. Propagation is through seeding in the fall and division in the spring. Under suitable conditions, this sedge may self-seed.

Habitats include wet to moist deciduous woodlands, sandy and non-sandy swamps, low shaded areas along streams, and shaded seeps. Occasionally, Bur Sedge spreads to adjacent mesic areas of woodlands, but this habitat is less typical for this sedge. It is found in average to high quality natural areas.

 Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  This sedge is somewhat unusual in that it occurs in both wetlands and woodlands.
  The seeds and seed heads of sedges are fairly important sources of food for various birds.
 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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