IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial sedge is 2-4' tall, consisting of a loose tuft of leafy culms. The culms are light green, 3-angled, and glabrous. About 3-6 alternate leaves occur along each culm; their blades are ascending to widely spreading. The leaf blades are up to 13" long and 12 mm. across; they are light to medium green, grooved, glabrous, and rough along their margins. The 2 outer sides of the leaf sheaths are light green, longitudinally veined, and glabrous, becoming reddish brown toward the base of each culm. The inner side of the leaf sheaths is more membranous, tending to deteriorate with age. The lowest leaves of each culm consist of sheaths without significant blades. Each fertile culm terminates in an inflorescence consisting of 1-3 staminate spikelets, 2-6 pistillate spikelets, and their leafy bracts. Both staminate and pistillate spikelets droop downward from slender peduncles; the staminate spikelets are located above the pistillate spikelets. Some spikelets with primarily staminate florets and scales may have a few pistillate florets, perigynia, and scales toward their tips (gynecandrous). Similarly, some spikelets with pistillate florets, perigynia, and scales may have a few staminate florets and scales at their tips. The staminate spikelets are ¾-4" long and very narrow; they are whitish green while immature, becoming tan at maturity. The pistillate spikelets are 1½-4" long and narrowly cylindrical; they are whitish green while immature, becoming bronze-colored at maturity. The peduncles of the staminate and pistillate spikelets are ¼-2½" long and glabrous. The perigynia are 2.5-4 mm. in length and 1.5-3 mm. across; they are broadly ellipsoid to obovoid, slightly flattened, glabrous, and veinless. Sometimes the perigynia are slightly crimped along one side. Each perigynium tapers abruptly to a minute beak from which the stigmata are exerted. The pistillate scales are 6-12 mm. in length; they have short oval bodies with long awn-like tips. Minute teeth occur along both sides of their tips. The oval body of each pistillate scale may be slightly indented near the base of the awn-like tip, otherwise its upper surface is jagged-truncate or rounded. The blooming period occurs from late spring to mid-summer, lasting about 1-2 weeks. The florets are cross-pollinated by wind. At maturity, the perigynia disarticulate from their spikelets, beginning at the tips; they have the capacity to float on water, distributing their achenes to new locations. The achenes are about 1.5 mm. long, obovoid in shape, and somewhat flattened; they are sometimes slightly crimped along one side. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. This sedge often forms colonies of plants.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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