There are precious few people who write about sedges. That's because there aren't many people who know anything about them. Even many an experienced botanist shuns sedges, as there are so many and sometimes it seems that they all look alike. If one looks at sheer numbers, the sedges do present a stiff learning curve. In Ohio, over 160 species in just one genus - Carex - have been found.
Despite the relative lack of interest in sedges, this group plays a very important role in ecology. They stabilize soil and streambanks, form large animal-rich colonies, provide food, and not least, offer enriched aesthetics in our various habitats.
Below is some photos and info on one of our showiest woodland sedges.
A dry sun-soaked roadbank high on a ridge in Shawnee State Forest. The roadsides, which mimic natural blow-down openings in the forest, harbor all manner of interesting plants. But exposure means everything. A south-facing exposure that is often baked and sere harbors an entirely different set of flora than does a cool, shady and much moister north-facing bank. The one above sports a profusion of birdfoot violet, Viola pedata, and also is home to sedges such as oak sedge, Carex albicans, and clustered sedge, C. umbellata.
Not yet quite mature, this slender spike holds the sedge's fruit, which are known as perigynia. The perigynia are slender and ellipsoid, and spaced rather widely. Each holds a small bony seed called an achene, which will later drop to the soil. Many fruits of sedges are probably carted off by ants; these insects are probably important dispersers of woodland sedges.
If you are at Flora-Quest and on one of my trips, you'll probably get to see the beautiful purple wood sedge firsthand.