Umbellate Sedge

Umbellate_Sedge_jpgThe Cyperaceae family commonly called the Rush or Sedge family includes eight genera and approximately three hundred species of grass-like plants.  In ancient times rushes were used to make roofs, writing instruments, bedding, caulking for ships and some were used to make arrows.  A more poetic use was for musical pipes.  In the Middle Ages rushes were used to cover cold stone floors and were swept away when dirty. The species name (umbellate) means “bearing umbels”.  Umbels are flower clusters that spring from the same level; resembling an umbrella. The presence of members of this family of plants indicates damp soil or low meadows.  Umbellate Sedge is found in dry to moist sandy to rocky open soils of woods, edges, and fields.  It will grow in shade or sun. Approximately 500 species of Carex are found in the United States—nearly half of those found worldwide. Because of their wide availability the seeds of sedges are eaten by many kinds of wildlife.  The seeds of  sedges are important to waterfowl and songbirds.  In addition to providing food, this plant provides nesting cover and for ducks and the tufted growths furnish concealment to other small animals.

OtherCommonName:

ScientificName:

Carex umbellata

Community:

Thicket

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

2-4 inches

FruitingTime:

May to June

Distribution:

Newfound land to Georgia ~ Throughout the Delaware Valley and the Inner Coastal Plain in New Jersey

FloweringTime:

Late April to June

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Umbellate Sedge grows in dense mats consisting of a stem and bunches of stemlets, each bearing one to three very small spikes, shapely angled ~ Stems much surpass and often conceal by the leaves, hairy. The following rhythm may help distinguish sedges from the similar appearing sedges, grasses, and rushes: Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses have joints from the tips to the ground. The leaves of Umbellate Sedge are flat and narrow; they have “edges”.