Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fringed Sedge

I'm not one to cultivate obscure tastes, but an interest in plants has led, after a few decades, to sedges, which most people have never heard of. A sedge can easily be dismissed as a green blob, vaguely grasslike--some sort of rank growth where the mowing crews haven't reached. But taking a closer look can be rewarding.

What sedge flowers lack in color they make up for in architecture. Sedges have edges, which is to say that if you follow a stem down to its base, you will find that it is triangular, in the same way a mint's stem is square, or a rush's stem is round.

Here's some of the architecture of one of my favorites, fringed sedge (Carex crinita), whose seeds are assembled in finger-like rows hanging gracefully from the tip of the stems. Like most sedges, this one likes wet ground, and if there's some sun, all the better. While having some grace and beauty, fringed sedge is also a very tough plant, and is often used to advantage in wetland restorations.

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