Carex buchananii 'Red Rooster'

Overall Plant
Common Name: leatherleaf sedge 
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Light brown
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer


Grow in organically rich, consistently moist, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun. Roots should not be allowed to dry out. Plants grown in USDA Zone 6 should be sited in sheltered locations to protect them from cold winter temperatures. Root mulches will not only protect roots in cold winters, but will also help conserve soil moisture in summer. Propagate by seed or division in spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carex buchananii, commonly known as leatherleaf sedge, is a perennial evergreen sedge that is native to New Zealand. Narrow, fine, upright, grass-like, copper-bronze to cinnamon-brown leaves (less than 1/2” wide) rise to 18-24” tall, arching slightly at the tips. Unixexual flowers appear in summer (June-August), but the flowers are ornamentally insignificant (small, green and lacking petals or sepals) and often sparse. Solid triangular stems distinguish sedges, including the species herein, from grasses which have round and usually hollow stems.

Around 2,000 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 John Buchanan (1819-1898), New Zealand botanist.

'Red Rooster' is an upright, clumping selection of leatherleaf sedge that features coppery-red, finely textured foliage. Clusters of light brown spiklets bloom in mid-summer and are not particularly showy. Mature clumps can reach 2' tall and 1.5' wide.


Plants are sometimes short-lived (2-3 years). Aphids and mealy bugs may be problematic in dense clumps, especially in hot climates. May be slow to establish after transplanting. Deer tend to avoid this plant.


This sedge needs surrounding color contrast (foliage and flowers or hardscaping) for best ornamental display. Thrives in moist soil. Best in groups or massed, banks, borders, rock/alpine gardens, stream margins or water garden peripheries, or used in large containers.