Friday, December 17, 2010

Native Plant of the Week: Pennsylvania Sedge ~ Carex pensylvanica

Pennsylvania Sedge ~ Carex pensylvanica

Other Common Names: Penn Sedge, Yellow Sedge, Early Sedge

Pennsylvania Sedge is quite common in our woodlands in central Minnesota. Like many sedges, to the untrained eye they are mistaken for a type of grass. Penn Sedge flowers early - mid to late April in central Minnesota. It is a clump forming sedge that spreads by rhizomes.

This sedge is about 4-8 inches in height with narrow blades that fall over later in the summer. The base of the blade is reddish in color.

Penn Sedge habitat includes mesic to dry woodlands in deep shade as well as upland habitats in nearly full sun. We have some thriving underneath our large white pine in the yard. This photo shows it growing in a shaded woodland along with yellow violets, virginia waterleaf and star-flowered false solomon's seal.

In this photo, a large clump is growing under mature red maples. This clump enlarged quite quickly in this park after the European Buckthorn was cut.

Wildlife Value: "(Penn Sedge) provides cover for migratory waterfowl and sandhill cranes. Ducks use (this sedge) for nesting material and some cover. It also provides nesting habitat, cover, and dancing grounds for sharptail grouse and prairie chickens." (US Forest Service Database)

You can find the seed for sale but it is very difficult to propagate Penn Sedge from seed. Your best bet is to buy small plugs to get some established. It's a nice native sedge for dry soils and/or areas under trees where you are having a hard time getting anything else established.
NOTE: It can spread quickly in disturbed soils without competition from other plants.