22 May 2010


This afternoon I wound up in an interesting seep/forested fen while doing some sedgin' at Potato Creek State Park in North Liberty, Indiana.

I realized that I don't take enough sedge photos, so I decided to photograph the inflorescences of three of the more interesting sedges I saw today.

The sedge above may look superficially like the common Awlfruit Sedge (Carex stipata), but in fact, this is actually Smoothsheath Sedge (Carex laevivaginata). The best way to tell these two species apart is by looking at the sheath. As the Latin and common names imply, the sheaths of Smoothsheath Sedge are... you guessed it... smooth (ain't botany easy?!?!); those of Awlfruit Sedge are cross-puckered. In addition, the sheaths of Smoothsheath Sedge possess thickened ridges at the summits, whereas those of Awlfruit Sedge lack this feature.

With gracefully dangling spikelets and terminal spikelets that are pistillate at the apex, Drooping Sedge (Carex prasina, above) is one of my favorites. This species could potentially be confused with the sedge in my previous post, Purple-sheathed Graceful Sedge (Carex gracillima), but the perigynia of Drooping Sedge are beaked, whereas those of Purple-sheathed Graceful Sedge are not. Drooping Sedge also lacks the red-purple pigmentation on the basal sheaths that Purple-sheathed Graceful Sedge possesses. The foliage of Drooping Sedge is a soft blue-gray-green, adding to its charm.

My best find of the day is shown above. This is Eastern Rough Sedge (Carex scabrata), State Endangered, and only known from a few locations in Indiana. The perigynia of this species are short pubescent, but the leaves lack hairs. There aren't really any species around here with which it can be confused. American Woollyfruit Sedge (Carex lasiocarpa var. americana) and Woolly Sedge (Carex pellita) both also have the combination of pubescent perigynia and glabrous leaves, but the leaves of Eastern Rough Sedge are more than 5 mm wide, whereas those of the woollyfruit sedges are narrower.

Those who say that sedges are not attractive are just plain wrong.


Eric Hunt said...

I found the most beautiful rush in a vernal pool last week. Out of bloom you would absolutely think it was a member of the Iridaceae and only the habitat might make you take pause and wonder if it's something else:

Juncus xiphioides, the iris-leaved rush:


Scott Namestnik said...

Wow... that Juncus is really interesting. Looks like a Sisyrinchium with rush flowers instead of Iridaceae flowers. Crazy stuff... thanks for sharing!

Keith said...

Ha! Look where I ended up while looking for photos of Carex prasina! That Carex scabrata is a sweet find! Nice photos.

Scott Namestnik said...

Thanks Keith. What were you doing looking for photos of Carex prasina?

Keith said...

It was related to some proofreading I'm doing :)I'm familiar with C. prasina and don't remember what I was trying to see.