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Spring Sedge

Carex caryophyllea

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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, 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, 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:
20 centimetres tall
Bogs, fields, gardens, grassland, heathland, marshes, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, wetland.

Red, no petals
Reddish-brown and club-shaped. Similar to Pill Sedge (Carex pilulifera) but the lowest bract is usually shorter that its spike, whereas Pill Sedge has the lowest bract longer than its spike.
Green and downy fruit. Present from May to July.
Dark green, hairless, grass-like leaves. 3-angled leaf blades as with all Sedge species.
Other Names:
Iron Grass, Star Sedge, Vernal Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex caryophyllea, also known as Star 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, star-like spikes of seeds, which resemble small stars, 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.


Spring Sedge, also known as Carex caryophyllea, is a herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the Cyperaceae family. It is native to Europe and western Asia and is commonly found in open woodlands, grasslands, and meadows. Spring Sedge is a fascinating plant, with many unique characteristics that make it worth learning about.


Spring Sedge is a small plant, typically growing up to a height of 20 cm. The leaves are narrow and grass-like, with a bright green color. The stems are thin and wiry, with brown or reddish-brown spikes that contain the flowers. The flowers themselves are small, greenish-brown, and inconspicuous.


Spring Sedge is commonly found in grasslands, meadows, and woodlands. It thrives in well-drained soils, and is often found growing in rocky or gravelly areas. It is also commonly found on calcareous soils. Spring Sedge is a hardy plant, and can tolerate both sun and shade.

Ecological Importance

Spring Sedge is an important plant for a number of reasons. It is an important food source for insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths. It is also a host plant for a number of insect species, including the Brown Argus butterfly. The seeds of Spring Sedge are also an important food source for birds, including the Linnet and the Tree Sparrow.

In addition to its ecological importance, Spring Sedge is also used in traditional medicine. The plant contains a number of compounds that are believed to have medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.


Spring Sedge is a relatively easy plant to cultivate. It prefers well-drained soils, and can tolerate both sun and shade. It is a hardy plant, and can survive in temperatures as low as -30°C. It can be propagated by seed, but is most commonly propagated by division.

Spring Sedge is a fascinating plant, with many unique characteristics that make it worth learning about. It is an important plant for a number of reasons, including its ecological importance and its use in traditional medicine. If you are interested in gardening or ecology, Spring Sedge is definitely a plant worth considering.

More Information about Spring Sedge

Spring Sedge is also a plant with cultural significance. In traditional folklore, Spring Sedge was believed to have protective properties, and was often used in rituals to ward off evil spirits. In some cultures, it was also used as a charm to bring good luck and prosperity.

In terms of conservation, Spring Sedge is considered to be a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, like many plant species, it is still at risk from habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as from the impacts of climate change. Therefore, it is important to conserve its natural habitats and to promote sustainable land management practices.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, Spring Sedge is also used for landscaping and gardening. Its narrow, grass-like leaves and compact size make it a popular choice for creating borders, edgings, and groundcovers. It is also commonly used in rock gardens and alpine plantings.

Overall, Spring Sedge is a fascinating and versatile plant with many important ecological, cultural, and horticultural values. Whether you are interested in conservation, traditional medicine, folklore, or gardening, Spring Sedge is a plant worth getting to know.

One interesting aspect of Spring Sedge is its ability to thrive in challenging environmental conditions. This plant is adapted to grow in nutrient-poor and dry soils, which can make it a valuable species for ecological restoration and land reclamation projects. It is also able to survive in areas with periodic drought and in regions with harsh winter conditions.

Another interesting fact about Spring Sedge is that it is a dioecious plant, meaning that male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. This feature is common in many species of the Cyperaceae family. The flowers of Spring Sedge are wind-pollinated and produce small, nut-like fruits that are dispersed by the wind.

In terms of its use in traditional medicine, Spring Sedge has been found to contain a variety of bioactive compounds that may have therapeutic effects. These compounds include flavonoids, phenolic acids, and saponins. Research has suggested that extracts from Spring Sedge may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of this plant.

Spring Sedge is also a popular subject for artists and photographers, who are drawn to its delicate form and bright green leaves. The plant's small size and intricate detail make it an ideal subject for macro photography and botanical illustration.

In conclusion, Spring Sedge is a fascinating plant with many interesting ecological, cultural, and scientific attributes. From its ability to grow in challenging conditions to its role in traditional medicine and folklore, Spring Sedge is a plant with much to offer those interested in botany, ecology, and the natural world.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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