Pennsylvania sedge

(Carex pensylvanica)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Pennsylvania sedge

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

Common and widespread

Habitat

Dry to moderate moisture. Wide range of prairies and woods. Sandy soil. Partial sunlight.

Flowering

April

Height

4 to 16

 

 


Identification

This is a short, tuft-forming sedge. It rises on a single shoot or a loose or dense clump of tufts from a horizontal, long-creeping stem (stolon). The stolon is slender, scaly, reddish, and up to 10 long. It is aboveground but often buried under leaf litter and other debris.

Both fertile and sterile stems (culms) are produced. The culms are triangular in cross section, reddish-purple at the base, hairless, and 4 to 16 tall. They are sheathed at the base with remnants of old leaves. Sterile culms are usually shorter than the leaves, fertile culms usually longer. Flowering spikes at the top of fertile culms are never hidden among the leaf bases.

There are two to several leaf blades per culm. Leaf blades are green, ascending to arched outward, 2 to 16 long, and 1 32 to wide. They are V-shaped in cross section, at least when young. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless and rough to the touch. The margins are mostly flat. The lower part of the leaf that surrounds the stem (sheath) becomes fibrous with age. The membrane where the leaf meets the stem (ligule) is short and broadly V-shaped.

The inflorescence at the end of each fertile culm is a male (staminate) spike terminating the stem above 1 to 3 lateral female (pistillate) spikes. Each spike is closely subtended by a single short modified leaf (bract).

The staminate spike is short stalked or stalkless and 3 16to 1 long. It is densely covered with overlapping scales. The scales are to 3 16long and egg-shaped to elliptic. They are green but usually strongly tinged with reddish-brown. The margins are white. Three stamens with yellow anthers emerge from the top of each scale.

The pistillate spikes are stalkless and to long. They are usually very close to but not overlapping the staminate spike. Each pistillate spike is densely covered with 4 to 13 scales. The pistillate scales are 1 16 to long, egg-shaped, and dark reddish-brown. They have a green midrib and narrow white margins. They are often blackened with fungus. Each scale covers a scale-like bract (perigynium) that encloses the female flower. The perigynium is about long, narrowly egg-shaped, and olive green to yellowish-green, often with a purplish tip. Three white stigmas emerge from a small opening at the tip of each perigynium.

The fruit is a dry, reddish-brown, one-seeded capsule (achene). It matures in April or May and drops from the plant soon after.

 
Similar
Species

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.


Comments

This and other Acrocystis sedges are the first sedges to flower each year.


Taxonomy

Family:

Cyperaceae (sedge)

 

Subfamily:

Cyperoideae

 

Tribe:

Cariceae

 

Genus:

Carex

 

Section:

Acrocystis

 
Synonyms

Carex marginata

Carex stolonifera

Carex pensylvanica var. glumabunda

Carex pensylvanica var. marginata

 
Common
Names

early sedge

Penn sedge

Pennsylvania sedge

yellow sedge


 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

achene

A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded seed capsule, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.

 

bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

culm

The hollow or pithy stem of a grass, sedge, or rush.

 

ligule

In grasses, a membranous appendage at the junction of the leaf and the leaf sheath, sometimes no more than a fringe of hairs. In flowering plants, the flat, strap-shaped, petal-like portion of the corolla of a ray floret.

 

perigynium

In Carex and other closely related sedges, a sac-like structure that surrounds the pistillate flower and later encloses the achene. Plural: perigynia.

 

sheath

The lower part of the leaf that surrounds the stem.

 

stigma

In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Odonata and Hymenoptera, a blood-filled blister or dark spot at the leading edge of each wing toward the tip, thought to dampen wing vibrations and signal mates. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths.

 

stolon

An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.

       

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  Carex pensylvanica - Pennsylvania Sedge
PrairieMoonNursery
 
   
 
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Uploaded on Apr 13, 2011

http://www.prairiemoon.com Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Sedge, also called Common Oak Sedge can be difficult to grow from seed so we suggest buying plants.

 
     
  Carex pensylvanica Blowing in the Wind
hiramgrad01
 
   
 
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Uploaded on Apr 16, 2011

Pensylvania sedge closeup showing stigmas of female flowers "looking" for Pollen

 
     

 

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