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The pistillate spikelet of this attractive sedge resembles a medieval mace. Because of this unusual characteristic, Gray's Sedge is fairly easy to identify. It is closely related to a less common sedge, Carex intumescens, which has a similar appearance. This latter species has pistillate spikelets that are less globoid in shape (because its lowermost perigynia are less declined than those of Gray's Sedge) and the bases of its perigynia are rounded, rather than wedge-shaped. Like many other wetland sedges, the perigynia of Gray's Sedge are inflated to facilitate the dispersal of their seeds by water. More terrestrial sedges on dry land usually have flattened perigynia, sometimes with narrowly winged margins, to facilitate the dispersal of their seeds by wind.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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