Carex normalis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: greater straw sedge 
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Native Range: Central and Northeastern North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Deer, Heavy Shade, Wet Soil


Easily grown in organically rich, consistently moist to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates full shade. Plants prefer shaded conditions. Plants need consistent moisture in full sun locations. Plants will tolerate brief flooded conditions. Cut foliage to the ground in late winter. Plants naturalize primarily by self-seeding but also by short rhizomes.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carex normalis, commonly called greater straw sedge or spreading oval sedge, is a perennial sedge (Section Ovales) that typically grows in a slowly creeping clump to 2-3' tall and as wide on upright triangular culms clad with narrow, linear, grass-like, green leaves (each to 2' long and to 1/4" wide). Green-veined leaf sheaths have distinctive white interveinal areas. This sedge is native to open woods, thickets, bottomland prairies, ditches, stream/pond margins, meadows and roadsides from Quebec to Minnesota south to South Dakota, Arkansas and Georgia. It is found throughout Missouri except in the western Ozarks (Steyermark). 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.

Flowers bloom in late spring (May-June) in compound, multi-branched, terminal inflorescences (to 2" long) atop flowering culms rising above the leaves to 3 1/2' tall. Each inflorescence is a cluster of densely packed, tufted spikes (each to 1/2" across). Pistillate flowers are followed by tiny fruits (achenes) enclosed in sac-like bracts (perigynia).

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 means at right angles.


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. Rain gardens.