IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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Description

This native perennial sedge is 1½–3½' tall, forming a dense tuft of leaves and flowering culms. The culms are light green, 3-angled, and glabrous (although slightly rough underneath the inflorescence). Several alternate leaves are located along the lower half of each culm; they are ascending to widely spreading. The narrow blades of the leaves are up to 5 mm. across and 3' long; they are light green, glabrous, furrowed in the middle, and rough-textured along their margins. The leaf sheaths wrap tightly around their culms. The outer two sides of each sheath are light green, veined, and glabrous, while the inner side is membranous and usually convex at its apex. Each fertile culm terminates in a relatively straight inflorescence about 2-5" long and about 2/3" across. The inflorescence consists of several short lateral spikelets along its central stalk; adjacent spikelets usually overlap each other, although some of the lower spikelets are sufficiently separated to produce short gaps between adjacent pairs. At the base of some spikelets, there is a bristle-like bract up to 2" long; usually it is much shorter than this. Each spikelet has a few male florets at its apex, while the female florets and their perigynia are located below. On each spikelet, the perigynia are ascending to widely spreading. Each perigynium is 2-3 mm. long and approximately 1.5 mm. across at maturity; it is ovoid-flattened, plano-convex, and glabrous, tapering into a short beak at its apex and well-rounded at its bottom. The pistillate scales are about the same length as the perigynia, but they are more narrow and lanceolate. Each pistillate scale has a central green vein and membranous margins, terminating in a short awn. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer; the florets are cross-pollinated by the wind. At maturity, the inflorescence of this sedge changes from green to brown or yellowish-brown. The achenes are 1.0–1.5 mm. long and about one-half as much across, ovoid-flattened in shape, and glabrous; there is usually a tiny knob-like projection at the base of each achene and sometimes at its apex. Achenes within the perigynia are distributed by wind or water. The root system is short-rhizomatous and fibrous. This sedge sometimes forms colonies of plants.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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