November 24, 2017

The Family Sedge

Carex intumescens - Bladder sedge

Janine Pineo Photo | Carex intumescens – Bladder sedge

Carex intumescens - Bladder sedge

Janine Pineo Photo | Carex intumescens – Bladder sedge

THE WEEKEND EDITION (So big it covers two days)

How does one keep track of a family that may have up to 2,000 members? That’s the family Carex for you, otherwise known as sedges. At a quick glance, one might think that a sedge is a grass, but it isn’t. Pictured is Carex intumescens, with the unfortunate common name of bladder sedge. This native sedge grows in wet meadows, alluvial woods and swales. A swale is defined as a low or hollow place, especially a marshy place between ridges. Which is exactly where we found this specimen, rising high above the other sedges and grasses. Bladder sedge can reach about 30 inches in height and is distinctive because, according to Go Botany, it “has lustrous, inflated, tear-drop shaped perigynia (sacs enclosing the fruits).” We think it looks cool, despite its unfortunate name. Maybe its other name is better: swollen sedge. As in, “I found swollen sedge in the swale.” Maybe not.