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Sedge Seeds

1-6-15  sedge fruit in winter 057Over 500 species of sedges in the genus Carex are found in the U.S. – over half of the world’s total. The great majority of these perennial, grass-like plants grow in the moist soil of meadows, marshes and bogs, as well as in high altitudes. Sedges are often distinguished from grasses by their stem, which is typically triangular in cross-section (“sedges have edges”). The flowers of sedges, each surrounded by a bottle-shaped bract, or modified leaf called a perigynium, are clustered on spikelets. The tips of these bracts persist after the seeds have formed, giving the spikelets a prickly appearance.

Because of their wide availability, the seeds are eaten by many kinds of wildlife, especially birds. Wild Turkeys, American Woodcock, Northern Cardinals, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, ducks, rails, sparrows, redpolls and finches relish them. In the Northeast, Carex seeds, along with insects, are the most regular items in the diet of Ruffed Grouse chicks. Moose also occasionally feed on sedge seeds. (Photo: Longhair or Bottlebrush Sedge, Carex comosa)

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4 responses

  1. Suzanne

    Mary, Do you know this much detail in your brain storage, or do you usually research pieces of your blog posts as you write them? Suzanne

    Sent from my iPad


    January 7, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    • Oh, Suzanne, you flatter me beyond belief! If you knew me, you would never have to ask this question! I totally research each and every post, and retain the information only for a limited amount of time — I’m sure my readers are more knowledgeable than I, as my memory is less than stellar, to say the very least!

      January 7, 2015 at 2:52 pm

  2. You are way too humble, Mary, considering all you are achieving by educating us with your blog posts. I have always loved sedges, but never, ever did I notice those individual, tiny “bottle-shaped bracts” even though I have long admired the geometry of the spikelets. As I told you when we met last summer, I would love to hike out with you sometime…

    January 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

  3. Rita Pitkin

    Thanks so much Mary for this very informative piece. Love learning the details of our complex natural environment!

    January 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm

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