Open the Advanced Search

Hairy Sedge

Carex hirta

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cyperaceae (Sedge)
Also in this family:
American Galingale, Birdsfoot Sedge, Black Alpine Sedge, Black Bog-rush, Bladder Sedge, Bog Sedge, Bottle Sedge, Bristle Club-rush, Bristle Sedge, Broad-leaved Cotton-grass, Brown Beak-sedge, Brown Bog-rush, Chestnut Rush, Close-headed Alpine Sedge, Club Sedge, Common Club-rush, Common Cotton-grass, Common Sedge, Common Spike-rush, Curved Sedge, Deergrass, Dioecious Sedge, Distant Sedge, Divided Sedge, Dotted Sedge, Downy-fruited Sedge, Dwarf Sedge, Dwarf Spike-rush, Estuarine Sedge, False Fox Sedge, False Sedge, Few-flowered Sedge, Few-flowered Spike-rush, Fibrous Tussock Sedge, Fingered Sedge, Flat Sedge, Flea Sedge, Floating Club-rush, Gingerbread Sedge, Glaucous Sedge, Great Fen Sedge, Greater Pond Sedge, Greater Tussock Sedge, Green-ribbed Sedge, Grey Club-rush, Grey Sedge, Hair Sedge, Haresfoot Sedge, Hare's-tail Cotton-grass, Heath Sedge, Hop Sedge, Large Yellow Sedge, Lesser Pond Sedge, Lesser Tussock Sedge, Long-bracted Sedge, Many-stalked Spike-rush, Mountain Bog Sedge, Needle Spike-rush, Northern Deergrass, Northern Spike-rush, Oval Sedge, Pale Sedge, Pendulous Sedge, Perennial Sedge, Pill Sedge, Prickly Sedge, Remote Sedge, Rock Sedge, Round-headed Club-rush, Russet Sedge, Salt Sedge, Sand Sedge, Scorched Alpine Sedge, Sea Club-rush, Sheathed Sedge, Slender Club-rush, Slender Cotton-grass, Slender Sedge, Slender Spike-rush, Slender Tufted Sedge, Smooth-stalked Sedge, Soft-leaved Sedge, Spiked Sedge, Spring Sedge, Star Sedge, Starved Wood Sedge, Stiff Sedge, String Sedge, Sweet Galingale, Tall Bog Sedge, Tawny Sedge, Thin-spiked Wood Sedge, Triangular Club-rush, True Fox Sedge, Tufted Sedge, Water Sedge, White Beak-sedge, White Sedge, Wood Club-rush, Wood Sedge, Yellow Sedge
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
70 centimetres tall
Bogs, gardens, grassland, marshes, meadows, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Green, no petals
The female catkins are green (or sometimes brown) with long, well-spaced out bracts.
Small, green, long-beaked, hairy fruit which ripens in June or July.
Hairy Sedge has long, green hairy leaves, making it easy to identify.
Other Names:
Goose Grass, Hammer Sedge, Rough-fruited Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex hirta, also known as Hairy Sedge or Rough-fruited Sedge, is a species of sedge that is native to Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a perennial herb that typically grows in wetland habitats such as marshes, bogs, and along the edges of streams and rivers. The plant has long, narrow leaves and small, inconspicuous brownish or greenish flowers that grow in spikes, the leaves and stem of the plant are typically hairy or rough, giving the plant a rough appearance. It is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and is also sometimes grown for its medicinal properties. It is considered as a common species in many areas, however, it is considered of conservation concern in some regions.


Hairy sedge, scientifically known as Carex hirta, is a perennial plant species that belongs to the sedge family Cyperaceae. It is widely distributed throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, including Europe, North America, and Asia. This plant is commonly found in damp or wet meadows, marshes, and along stream banks, and can grow up to 80 cm tall.

The most distinguishing feature of hairy sedge is its long, narrow leaves that have a rough texture and are hairy to the touch. The stems of this plant are triangular and are also hairy. The flowers of hairy sedge are arranged in a dense, elongated inflorescence, with the male and female flowers on separate plants. The male flowers are small and have a yellowish color, while the female flowers are larger and have a greenish-brown color.

Hairy sedge is an important plant species for a variety of reasons. It provides an important source of food and habitat for many wildlife species, including insects, birds, and mammals. The plant's dense root system helps to stabilize soil, prevent erosion, and improve water quality by filtering nutrients and pollutants. In addition, the leaves and stems of hairy sedge have been used for a variety of traditional medicinal purposes, including as a diuretic, astringent, and anti-inflammatory agent.

One interesting aspect of hairy sedge is its role in traditional folklore and mythology. In many cultures, this plant has been associated with various deities and spiritual entities, and has been used in various rituals and ceremonies. For example, in Norse mythology, the goddess Freyja was said to have a chariot pulled by cats, with the wheels made of hairy sedge. In Irish mythology, the goddess Aine was said to use the plant as a symbol of fertility and growth.

Despite its many benefits, hairy sedge can also be a problematic plant in certain contexts. It is often considered a weed in agricultural fields and pastures, where it can compete with desirable plant species and reduce crop yields. In addition, the dense growth of hairy sedge in wetlands and other aquatic habitats can reduce water flow and impede navigation.

Hairy sedge is an important plant species with a rich history and many practical uses. It is a valuable component of many ecosystems and provides numerous benefits to wildlife and humans alike. By understanding the ecology and biology of this plant, we can better appreciate its importance and work to protect it in the face of environmental challenges.

Hairy sedge is a versatile plant that can grow in a wide range of soil types and conditions. It is well adapted to wetland environments and is often used in wetland restoration and mitigation projects. Its long, fibrous roots help to stabilize soils and prevent erosion, making it a useful tool in erosion control efforts.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal uses, hairy sedge has also been used in a variety of cultural and practical applications. For example, the long, narrow leaves of hairy sedge have been used to make woven baskets and mats. In some areas, the plant has been used as a thatching material for roofs and walls of buildings. The stems of the plant have also been used to make rope, and the dried leaves have been used as a fuel source.

In terms of its ecological significance, hairy sedge plays an important role in wetland ecosystems. It is a key component of the plant community in wet meadows, marshes, and other wetland habitats. The dense growth of hairy sedge provides important habitat for many wildlife species, including birds, mammals, and amphibians. The plant also helps to filter and purify water by absorbing excess nutrients and pollutants.

Despite its many benefits, hairy sedge is also vulnerable to a number of threats, including habitat loss and degradation, invasive species, and climate change. Wetland habitats are under increasing pressure from development and other human activities, and many of these habitats are being lost or degraded at an alarming rate. In addition, invasive species such as reed canarygrass and purple loosestrife can outcompete hairy sedge and other native wetland species, further reducing the quality and quantity of wetland habitats.

Overall, hairy sedge is a fascinating and important plant species that deserves our attention and protection. By working to conserve and restore wetland habitats, we can help ensure that this and other important plant and animal species continue to thrive for generations to come.

One of the interesting things about hairy sedge is that it has developed some unique adaptations to its wetland environment. For example, the plant's long, narrow leaves are adapted to capture sunlight in low-light conditions, and the plant's stem is hollow, allowing it to float on the water's surface. These adaptations help hairy sedge to thrive in wetland habitats where other plant species might struggle to survive.

Another fascinating aspect of hairy sedge is its use in traditional medicine. The plant has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes throughout history, including as a treatment for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and other ailments. The plant's astringent properties make it useful for treating diarrhea, and its anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce swelling and pain.

In recent years, researchers have also begun to investigate the potential of hairy sedge as a source of bioenergy. The plant's high cellulose content makes it a promising candidate for use in the production of biofuels, which could help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to its ecological, cultural, and medicinal significance, hairy sedge is also an important plant species from a conservation perspective. Many populations of hairy sedge are threatened by habitat loss and degradation, and efforts are underway to protect and restore wetland habitats where the plant occurs. In some areas, researchers are also working to develop new strategies for cultivating hairy sedge in wetland environments, which could help to conserve the plant and reduce the need for harvesting wild populations.

In conclusion, hairy sedge is a versatile and important plant species with a rich history and many practical applications. Its unique adaptations to wetland environments make it a valuable component of wetland ecosystems, and its medicinal properties and potential as a bioenergy source make it a promising candidate for further research and development. By working to conserve and protect wetland habitats where hairy sedge occurs, we can help ensure that this and other important plant species continue to thrive in the face of environmental challenges.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map