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Description

This native sedge is 1–2¼' tall, consisting of an unbranched culm with 1-4 leaves along the lower-third of its length; by the time that the inflorescence of the culm develops, the older leaves are often withered. Basal sheaths of these withered leaves often persist at the base of the culm; they are pale brown to black. Each culm is light green to green, glabrous, and triangular in cross-section (becoming more terete near the bottom); it is rough underneath the inflorescence, otherwise its texture is smooth. The narrow leaf blades are 1-3 mm. across and up to 8" in length; they are ascending to arching, green, hairless, and somewhat stiff. The sheaths of younger leaves are light green to green, hairless, and slightly concave at the apices of their inner sides. A culm usually terminates in a narrow inflorescence that is about ½–1¾" long. This inflorescence is stiff and erect, consisting of about 6-14 short spikelets that are either appressed and erect or ascending along the rachis. These spikelets are overlapping or slightly separated from each other; they tend to be more crowded toward the top. Young spikelets are a mixture of green and brown, but they later become brownish black. In addition to spikelets, the inflorescence has one or more floral bracts that are bristly-linear to scale-like. These bracts are light brown or golden brown. The inflorescence can have spikelets with male florets above and female florets below, or spikelets with all male florets, or spikelets with all female florets; this varies with the local population. The perigynia are 2.0–3.5 mm. long and 1.0–1.5 mm. across; they are golden brown to brownish black, flattened-ovoid to flattened-lanceoloid with slender beaks, rounded at their bottoms, and lacking membranous wings along their margins. The outer surface of each perigynium has a few longitudinal veins, while its inner surface is without veins. The pistillate scales are ovate with slender tips; they are equal to, or larger than, their perigynia. These scales have greenish brown central veins, otherwise they are membranous (translucent to light brown). The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting about 1-2 weeks. The florets are cross-pollinated by the wind. The achenes are broadly ellipsoid, somewhat flattened, light to dark brown, about 1.25–2 mm. long, and 1–1.5 mm. across. The root system is fibrous and long-rhizomatous. This sedge is not densely tufted at the base. Instead, individual culms are produced from the long rhizomes. As a result, a dense mat of clonal plants is produced. The culms of such colonies are normally erect, although they can lean over to one side in response to flood waters or another disturbance. Cultivation

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Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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