A Tale of Three Sedges

by Flora O’Brien, EMGV

What’s so great about sedges? They just look like clumps of grass, right? Well, here are three sedges both unusual and interesting for sun, shade and in-between.

Top to bottom: Carex scaposa, Carex Sparkler, Carex Whitetop. Credit Flora O’Brien.

The Cherry Blossom Sedge, (Carex scaposa), has surprising, vibrant, showy pink flowers, something you don’t expect to find in a sedge. The plant grows in clumps, stands about a foot high and has wide arching leaves. It blooms in summer and repeats in the fall. Plant this beauty in part shade to shade in average soil.


Next is Carex phyllocephala, “Sparkler.’ This plant was given to me last winter by a friend. What I love is that it looks like a small palm tree. The foliage is variegated and sits atop one- to two-foot tall cane-like stems. This is also a clump former and does best in part shade to deep shade.




And for the sun, try Rhynchospora colorate or Star Sedge (also known as Whitetop Sedge). The flowers themselves are tiny but have long flowing bracts, white near the flower, then changing to green near the tip. From a distance they look like bobbing white daisies. This plant spreads by rhizomes so it will need to be thinned occasionally. I have included a close-up photo to illustrate the lovely form.



So, don’t pass over sedges believing them to be boring. Check these three out and prepare to be amazed.

Resources & Further Reading https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/rhynchospora-colorata/
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=256661
https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=rhco7