Carex tumulicola
Common Name: Berkeley sedge
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Native Range: Western North America
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Green / brown
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Heavy Shade, Erosion, Wet Soil

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10 where it forms a rhizomatous spreading ground cover. North of Zone 8, it will not survive winter but may be grown as an annual. It is easily grown in a wide range of medium moisture soils in part shade to full shade. Best performance occurs in soils with regular moisture, but plants tolerate both periods of drought as well as moist to wet conditions. Plants also tolerate full sun in native areas along the West coast. Plants will spread by rhizomes and self-seeding to form a ground cover. Propagate by seed or division.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carex tumulicola, sometimes commonly called foothill sedge or Berkeley sedge, is an evergreen perennial sedge that grows in arching clumps to 1-2' tall. It is native to open woods, meadows and coastal prairies from the central coast of California north to Oregon and Washington. Plants feature pubescent, narrow, grass-like, medium green leaves (to 18" long and 1/8" wide). Brown, non-showy flowers bloom in spring atop stems rising above the foliage to 2' tall.

Carex divulsa is a European species of Carex which at one point was sold in California by mistake as Carex tumulicola. It differs inter alia from the California native by being a more aggressive spreader with winter hardiness to USDA Zone 4.

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.

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.

Problems

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

Garden Uses

Where winter hardy, this evergreen sedge will form an impressive ground cover which is not only ornamentally attractive but also helps stabilize soils and control erosion. Flowers are somewhat insignificant. Group or mass. Also effective accent for borders or smaller gardens. Can be mowed and used as a lawn substitute, particularly for difficult areas of the landscape. True beauty of this sedge is in its evergreen foliage. Birds are attracted to the plant's seed.