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Many people are unaware that Carex stricta (Tussock Sedge) is just one of a small group of large tussock-forming sedges that have long whip-like leaves and inflorescences with multiple pistillate and staminate spikelets that are narrowly cylindrical. Three other species in this group can be found in Illinois that are difficult to distinguish from Tussock Sedge. The first species, Carex aquatilis substricta (Aquatic Sedge), differs from Tussock Sedge by having wider leaf blades (often exceeding 6.5 mm. across) and perigynia that are more obovoid in shape (widest above the middle). The lowest leaves of this species also have well-developed blades. The second species, Carex emoryi (Emory's Sedge), differs from Tussock Sedge by having perigynia with 3-5 conspicuous veins along their outer surfaces and its achenes are more oblongoid in shape. In addition, some of the longer leaf blades of this species often overtop its culms. The third species, Carex haydeni (Hayden's Sedge), differs from Tussock Sedge by having pistillate scales that are longer than the perigynia and its perigynia are more orbicular in shape. Its pistillate scales also have more pointed tips than those of Tussock Sedge.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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