Random Plant: Sedges have edges

Sedge (Carex sp., Cyperaceae) photographed 10/19/2009 near Blissfield Michigan.

It would be easy to mistake this unassuming monocot for a grass (family Poaceae).  It’s actually a sedge (Carex sp., Cyperaceae).  One easy way to distinguish them is to cut a shoot and examine the cross-section.  Grass shoots are round in cross-section with a hole in the center.  Sedge shoots are triangular:

Cross-section of sedge shoot, photographed 05/07/2009 near Blissfield Michigan.

Another similar type of monocot, rushes (family Juncaceae), are round like grasses but without a center hole.  I learned a little poem in a plant biology class to keep them straight:  “Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses like asses have holes.”

Sedges (Carex sp., Cyperaceae) photographed 10/19/2009 near Blissfield Michigan.

Sedges seem to blanket relatively open, wet ground here in southern Michigan, giving rise to the plant community known as a sedge meadow or southern wet meadow.

Seed pods of a sedge (Carex sp., Cyperaceae) photographed 10/19/2009 near Blissfield Michigan.

This particular sedge produces spiky seed pods in autumn, as seen above.  I suspect it could be Gray’s sedge (Carex grayi), but with hundreds (if not thousands) of species in this genus, at this point I’m not sure.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Random Plant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Random Plant: Sedges have edges

  1. Pingback: Random Plant: Bristly greenbrier | The Life of Your Time

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