Carex cristatella

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: sedge 
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Wet Soil


Easily grown in organically rich, consistently moist to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Plants need consistent moisture in full sun locations. Avoid deep shade. Plants will grow in very shallow water. Cut foliage to the ground in late winter. Plants slowly naturalize by rhizomes and self-seeding in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carex cristatella, commonly called crested oval sedge, is a perennial sedge that typically grows in a clump to 1-3' tall on upright triangular culms. Glabrous, grass-like, light green leaves (to 16" long and 1/3" wide) appear in basal clumps and along the culms. This sedge is native to bottomland prairies, moist depressions of upland prairies, moist woodlands, boggy marshes, wet meadows, sloughs, pond margins and stream banks from Quebec to Saskatchewan south to North Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina (Steyermark). Flowers bloom in late spring (May-June) in terminal inflorescences atop flowering culms which typically rise above the foliage to as much as 3' tall. Each inflorescence consists of a short stalk of globose, densely packed, prickly (perigynia beaks) spikelets (each to 1/3" across), with each spikelet containing pistillate flowers only or in some cases primarily pistillate flowers with a small area of staminate flowers located at the base of the spikelet. Pistillate 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 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.

Specific epithet from Latin means crested.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Accent or specimen. Mass for a slowly spreading ground cover. Shady areas of borders, woodland gardens or shade gardens. Also appropriate for water gardens peripheries and stream/pond margins.