Carex bushii

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Bush's sedge 
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Native Range: United States
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: Reddish-brown
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy


Easily grown in medium to moist soils in full sun to part shade. Best performance occurs in soils with consistent moisture. Plants lack developed rhizomes, but will self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carex bushii, sometimes commonly called Bush's sedge, is a perennial sedge (section Porocystis) that grows in a loose clump to 1-3' tall. It is native to meadows, fields, open woods, dry to mesic grasslands, prairies and stream/pond margins in the eastern and central U.S. (Massachusetts to Wisconsin to Nebraska south to Texas and Georgia). In Missouri, it is found throughout the State except in the far northwestern and southeastern corners. In addition to traditional native sites, this sedge is also sometimes found in ditches, railroad right-of-ways, roadsides, old fields, pastures and disturbed open ground (Steyermark). Plants feature pubescent, narrow, grass-like, mostly-basal, medium green leaves (to 12" long and 1/2" wide). Flowers bloom in late spring (May) in spikes (pistillate scales are reddish-brown) on rough, sparsely-hairy, triangular stems rising above the foliage to 2-3' tall. Flowers are unisexual and appear on the same spike, with the pistillate female flowers located just above the staminate male flowers. 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 honors botanist Benjamin Franklin Bush (1858-1937).


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


Best grown in mass for foliage effect in consistently moist soils. Flowers are not particularly showy. Good selection for low spots or stream/pond margins. Also may be grown in a variety of upland locations as long as soils are kept consistently moist. Effective accent for smaller gardens.