IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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The most striking aspect of Broom Sedge is the persistence of its dried straw-colored foliage. This foliage tends to stand out from the background as this grass prefers habitats that are relatively barren. The common name, 'Broom Sedge,' is somewhat misleading because this species is a grass (Poaceae), rather than a sedge (Cyperaceae). The 'broom' in the common name refers to the fact that the culms were used to make brooms in some of the southern states. Another common name that is occasionally used for this species is 'Whiskey Grass.' It is possible to confuse Broom Sedge with some closely related species of grass, but they are restricted to southern Illinois and areas further south. These species include Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy Broom Sedge), Andropogon ternarius (Silver Broom Sedge), and Andropogon gyrans (Elliott's Broom Sedge). As compared to Broom Sedge, Bushy Broom Sedge has a more bushy inflorescence with wider spikelets (exceeding ¾" across). The spikelets of Silver Broom Sedge are more heavily covered with silver hairs, its sessile spikelets are longer (5-6 mm. in length), and each of its florets has 3 stamens, rather than a single stamen. Elliott's Broom Sedge can be distinguished by its upper sheaths that are more swollen and copper-colored, its racemes of spikelets that are mostly enclosed by these sheaths, and awns that are twisted or bent near their bases.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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