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Bladder Sedge

Carex vesicaria

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cyperaceae (Sedge)
Also in this family:
American Galingale, Birdsfoot Sedge, Black Alpine Sedge, Black Bog-rush, 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, Hairy 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:
1 metre tall
Bogs, ditches, gardens, marshes, meadows, riverbanks, riversides, swamps, waterside, wetland.

Green, no petals
Difficult to distinguish from Bottle Sedge. The purplish-brown female glumes are long and pointed.
A green, shiny, erect fruiting spike containing up to 150 roundish fruits.
Perennial. Grey-green 3-sided leaves with blunt edges.
Other Names:
Blister Sedge, Bog Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex vesicaria, also known as Bladder Sedge or Bog Sedge, is a species of sedge that is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. 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. It is known for its distinctive, inflated seed-heads, which resemble small bladders, which is where the plant gets its common name. 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.


Bladder sedge, also known as Carex vesicaria, is a perennial sedge native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is commonly found in wetland areas such as marshes, swamps, and fens, and can also be found in ditches and along the edges of streams and ponds.


Bladder sedge has long, narrow leaves that are green in color and can grow up to 60 cm tall. It produces a cluster of flowers on a tall, slender stem that can reach up to 1 m in height. The flowers are brown in color and are typically wind-pollinated. One of the most distinguishing features of bladder sedge is its seed heads, which are enclosed in a small, inflated sac or "bladder". The sac is green when immature, turning brown as the seeds ripen.

Ecological Importance

Bladder sedge plays an important role in wetland ecosystems. It provides cover and nesting sites for a variety of wildlife, including birds, small mammals, and reptiles. The seeds are an important food source for many wetland birds, such as ducks and geese, and the leaves provide a habitat for insects such as dragonflies and damselflies. Additionally, bladder sedge helps to stabilize wetland soils, prevent erosion, and filter pollutants from the water.

Cultural Significance

Bladder sedge has been used by humans for thousands of years. The dried leaves were traditionally used to make mats and baskets, and the fibers were used to weave clothing and rope. The plant was also used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and diarrhea.

Conservation Status

Despite its ecological and cultural importance, bladder sedge is facing several threats. Habitat loss and degradation due to human activities, such as drainage and development, are the primary threats. Additionally, invasive species and climate change are also impacting bladder sedge populations. As a result, bladder sedge is listed as a species of conservation concern in many regions, and efforts are underway to protect and restore its habitat.

Bladder sedge is an important plant species that plays a vital role in wetland ecosystems and has been used by humans for thousands of years. However, its populations are threatened by a variety of factors, and conservation efforts are necessary to ensure its survival. By protecting and restoring wetland habitats, we can help ensure the continued existence of this valuable plant species and the many benefits it provides to both wildlife and humans.

More Information on Bladder Sedge

Bladder sedge is a versatile plant that can be used in various ways. Its fibers have been traditionally used in the production of items such as mats, baskets, and clothing. In addition, the plant has also been used in landscaping as an ornamental plant due to its unique appearance and ability to grow in wet soil.

Bladder sedge is also known for its medicinal properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and other ailments related to the urinary system. The plant contains compounds that have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

In terms of its conservation status, bladder sedge is listed as a species of conservation concern in many regions. Wetlands are important habitats for many species, and the loss and degradation of wetland habitats can have negative impacts on the ecosystem as a whole. In addition to protecting wetland habitats, efforts are also underway to cultivate bladder sedge in nurseries and restore its populations in the wild.

Bladder sedge is just one of many plant species that are important for wetland ecosystems and for human use. By understanding the ecological and cultural importance of these species and taking action to protect and restore their habitats, we can help ensure their survival and the many benefits they provide to us and the environment.

Bladder sedge is a species that is well-suited to wetland restoration projects. Its ability to grow in wet soils and its role in stabilizing wetland soils makes it an important species for ecosystem restoration efforts. In addition, bladder sedge can help improve water quality by filtering pollutants and excess nutrients from the water.

There are many organizations and government agencies that are working to protect and restore wetland habitats. In the United States, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are among the agencies involved in wetland conservation efforts. Additionally, non-profit organizations such as the Wetlands International and The Nature Conservancy are working to protect and restore wetlands around the world.

There are also steps that individuals can take to help protect wetland habitats and species like bladder sedge. Reducing water use, properly disposing of household hazardous waste, and avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides can all help protect wetlands and the species that depend on them. Additionally, supporting conservation organizations and advocating for wetland protection can also make a difference.

In conclusion, bladder sedge is a plant species that is important for wetland ecosystems and has cultural and medicinal significance. However, like many wetland species, it is facing threats from habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change. By understanding the importance of wetlands and taking action to protect and restore them, we can help ensure the survival of species like bladder sedge and the many benefits that wetlands provide to both humans and the environment.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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