Carex pensylvanica

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: sedge
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Native Range: Canada, United States
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Greenish
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Wet Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers loose loams in dry soils in sun-dappled part shade. Most sedges prefer moist to wet soils, but not this one. Plants spread by rhizomes. Plants may self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carex pensylvanica, commonly called Pennsylvania sedge, is a shade-loving perennial sedge that is native to thickets and dry woodland areas in Eastern and Central North America from Quebec to Manitoba south to Mississippi and Georgia. In Missouri, it is found mostly north of the Missouri River in dry to mesic upland forests and shaded bluff ledges (Steyermark). It typically grows in loose colonies with a creeping habit. Roots are reddish brown. It is often found in areas with oak trees, hence the additional common name of oak sedge. This is a low sedge with soft, delicate, arching, semi-evergreen leaves (each to 1/8" wide). It typically grows in a clump to 8" tall. It is semi-evergreen in moderately cold winter climates. Narrow, grass-like, medium green leaves (to 8-12" long) are typically shorter than the flowering stems. Plants are monoecious (spikelets of male flowers above female flowers). Flowers bloom in late spring (May) in inflorescences atop rough, sharply triangular culms (stems) which rise up singly from the rhizomes. Staminate scales are green often tinged with reddish-purple with white margins. Pistillate scales are dark brown to purplish black with green midribs and white margins. Female flowers are followed by tiny fruits (achenes) enclosed in sac-like bracts (perigynia). Over 1500 species of Carex grow in a variety of habitats (often moist to wet areas) throughout the world. Identification of individual species can sometimes be very difficult.

Genus name from Latin means cutter in reference to the sharp leaves and stem edges ("rushes are round but sedges have edges") found on most species' plants.

Over 1500 species of Carex grow in a variety of habitats (often moist to wet areas) throughout the world. Identification of individual species can be very difficult.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spot, smut and rust are occasional problems.

Garden Uses

Groundcover for dry shade. Underplanting for shade perennials. Lawn substitute for dry soils in shady areas (forms a turf that never needs mowing or mow 2-3 times per year to 2" tall). May be best to use purchased plants for covering large areas because this species often does not grow well from seed.