Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Gray's Sedge (Carex grayii)
- Family: Sedge (Cyperaceae)
- Flowering: May-October.
- Field Marks: The large, spherical female spikes that resemble a mace from the knights of old easily distinguish this sedge.
- Habitat: Wet woods, swamps, floodplain woods.
- Habit: Perennial herb with thickened rootstocks.
- Stems: Erect, smooth, 3-angled, up to 3 feet tall.
- Leaves: Elongated, narrow, often longer than the flowering stem, dark green, smooth, up to 1/2 inch broad.
- Flowers: Male and female flowers borne in separate spikes; the male flowers in a single narrow spike up to 2 inches long; the female flowers crowded into 1-2 dense, spherical heads resembling a mace from the knights of old, up to 1 1/4 inches in diameter, containing 6-30 perigynia.
- Scales: Ovate, rounded but usually with a short mucro at the tip, pale along the edges, about 1/3 as long as the perigynia.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 3.
- Pistils: Enclosed in a perigynium; the perigynium ovoid, smooth or short-hairy, up to 3/4 inch long, ribbed, abruptly contracted into a long beak 2-toothed at the tip.
- Fruits: Achenes triangular, smooth.
- Notes: Although most specimens are completely smooth, others may have slightly hairy leaves and perigynia. The achenes are eaten by waterfowl.
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