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Wood Sedge

Carex sylvatica

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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, 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, Yellow Sedge
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, grassland, heathland, scrub, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, no petals
A single male spikelet. 3 to 5 long-stalked female drooping catkins, pale yellow, up to 6cm long.
Long beaked, green, narrow, cylindrical. Up to 5mm in length.
Yellowish-green, linear, grass-like leaves which persist over winter. The stems droop at their ends. Our commonest woodland sedge. Perennial.
Other Names:
European Woodland Sedge, Forest Sedge, Heathland Sedge, Woodland Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex sylvatica, also known as "woodland sedge" or "heathland sedge" is a species of perennial plant in the Cyperaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia and is found in woodlands, heathlands, bogs and fens. It has triangular-shaped leaves and produces small brown or brownish-green flowers in spikes. The plant can grow up to 60cm in height and forms dense tufts. It prefers shady, moist soils and it's tolerant to drought and salt. It is often used as a ornamental plant in gardens, and wetland restoration. It is also known for its medicinal properties, it has been traditionally used for wound healing and for treating respiratory conditions.


Carex sylvatica, commonly known as Wood Sedge, is a perennial grass-like plant that belongs to the Cyperaceae family. This sedge is native to Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa, and has been introduced to North America, where it is now naturalized in some areas.

Wood Sedge is a cool-season plant that grows well in a variety of habitats, including deciduous and coniferous forests, woodland edges, and wetlands. It prefers moist to wet soils and partial shade to full shade. It is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping, as it is easy to grow and maintain, and provides an attractive ground cover in shaded areas.

The leaves of Wood Sedge are narrow and grass-like, with a dark green color that turns brownish in the fall. The stems are triangular in cross-section, and can grow up to 60 cm (24 inches) tall. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, and are borne in terminal spikes that are 1-3 cm (0.4-1.2 inches) long. The plant blooms from May to June.

Wood Sedge is an important plant for wildlife, as it provides cover and food for many species. The foliage is eaten by deer, rabbits, and other small mammals, while the seeds are a food source for birds and small mammals. In addition, Wood Sedge is a host plant for the larvae of some butterfly species, including the Woodland Brown and the Appalachian Brown.

In addition to its ecological importance, Wood Sedge has some medicinal properties. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including diarrhea, fever, and respiratory problems. The plant contains several compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Wood Sedge is a versatile and important plant that has many benefits for both wildlife and humans. It is easy to grow and maintain, and can provide an attractive ground cover in shaded areas. Its ecological and medicinal properties make it a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

Wood Sedge is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care once established. It is drought tolerant and can survive periods of dry weather, but prefers moist to wet soils. It is also resistant to many pests and diseases, making it an ideal plant for gardens and landscaping.

One of the benefits of Wood Sedge is its ability to control soil erosion. Its fibrous roots help to stabilize soil on slopes and prevent erosion, making it a valuable plant for landscaping in areas with unstable soils.

Wood Sedge is also used in ecological restoration projects, where it is planted to restore degraded habitats and provide food and cover for wildlife. It is often planted in riparian areas, where it can help to filter water and improve water quality.

In addition to its ecological and landscaping benefits, Wood Sedge has cultural significance. It has been used in traditional medicine in Europe and North Africa, and its fibers have been used to make cordage and baskets. The plant has also been used in folk medicine as a remedy for digestive problems, headaches, and other ailments.

Wood Sedge is a valuable plant that has many benefits for both the environment and humans. Its versatility, ease of cultivation, and ecological and cultural significance make it a plant worth considering for gardens, landscaping, and ecological restoration projects.

Wood Sedge can also be used in a variety of ways in the garden or landscape. It is often used as a ground cover in shady areas, where it can form a dense mat and prevent the growth of weeds. It can also be used to create a natural-looking edge for garden beds or to line paths and walkways.

In addition to its use as a ground cover, Wood Sedge can also be planted in containers, where it can provide a low-maintenance accent plant for shaded areas. It can also be used in rain gardens or wetland restoration projects, where it can help to absorb excess water and improve water quality.

If you are considering planting Wood Sedge in your garden or landscape, it is important to choose the right location. Wood Sedge prefers partial to full shade and moist to wet soils. It can grow in a variety of soil types, but prefers well-drained, fertile soils. It is also important to plant Wood Sedge at the appropriate time of year, which is usually in the spring or fall.

Wood Sedge is a versatile and valuable plant that has many benefits for the environment and humans. Its ease of cultivation, low maintenance, and ecological and cultural significance make it a great addition to any garden or landscape. Whether you are looking to create a natural-looking ground cover, stabilize soil on a slope, or improve water quality in a wetland, Wood Sedge is a plant that is definitely worth considering.

One of the great things about Wood Sedge is that it can be easily propagated from seed or division. Seeds can be collected in the fall and stored in a cool, dry place until spring, when they can be sown directly in the ground. Division is also an easy way to propagate Wood Sedge. Simply dig up a clump of the plant and divide it into smaller pieces, each with some roots attached. Replant the divisions in a new location and water well.

Another interesting fact about Wood Sedge is that it has been used in research to study the effects of light and shade on plant growth and development. Because Wood Sedge grows well in both full shade and partial shade, it has been used as a model organism to study the physiological and molecular changes that occur in plants in response to light and shade.

Finally, it's important to note that while Wood Sedge is generally not considered invasive, it can spread by rhizomes and self-seeding, and may become weedy in some situations. If you are planting Wood Sedge in a natural area, it's important to monitor it to prevent it from spreading too aggressively and outcompeting other native species.

In summary, Wood Sedge is a versatile and valuable plant that has many benefits for the environment and humans. It is easy to grow and maintain, and can be used in a variety of ways in gardens, landscaping, and ecological restoration projects. Its ecological and cultural significance, as well as its use in research, make it a plant that is definitely worth considering.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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