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Gingerbread Sedge

Carex elongata

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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, 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:
90 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, meadows, riverbanks, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Brown, no petals
Dark reddish-brown spikelets.
Ovate, acute capsules.
Stiff, yellowish-green leaves that turn red in autumn. The ligules are long and pointed. Tussock-forming. Alternate, linear leaves. Mainly found in wet alder and (sometimes) willow woodlands.
Other Names:
Elongated Sedge, Long Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Carex elongata, commonly known as "long sedge," is a perennial herbaceous plant in the Cyperaceae family. It is native to North America and typically found in wet or moist habitats, such as bogs, fens, wet meadows, and along stream banks. It has narrow, green leaves and small, inconspicuous brown or green flowers that appear in spring and early summer. Carex elongata can grow in sun or shade, wet or dry soils and can tolerate some degree of flooding. It is often used in landscaping and gardening for its ability to tolerate wet soils and to provide a ground cover in shaded or partly shaded areas, also it can be used to stabilize stream banks and other erosion-prone areas. It is known for its long and narrow leaves, hence the name "long sedge".


Gingerbread Sedge, also known as Carex elongata, is a perennial sedge plant that is native to Europe and western Asia. It is a tall, clumping plant that can grow up to 3 feet in height, with long, slender, arching leaves that have a distinctive spicy scent, similar to that of gingerbread cookies. The plant is commonly found in wetlands, along the banks of streams and rivers, and in other damp habitats.

Gingerbread Sedge is an important plant in wetland ecosystems, providing habitat and food for a variety of insects and other wildlife. The plant's seeds are eaten by a number of bird species, including ducks, rails, and songbirds, while the foliage provides cover and nesting sites for small animals such as voles and shrews.

In addition to its ecological importance, Gingerbread Sedge has also been used by humans for a variety of purposes. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a range of ailments, including digestive disorders and respiratory problems. The roots of the plant were also used to make a brown dye that was used to color textiles.

Today, Gingerbread Sedge is sometimes used in horticulture as an ornamental plant, particularly in wetland gardens and around water features. The plant's unique fragrance and striking appearance make it a popular choice for gardeners looking to add interest to their landscapes.

Cultivating Gingerbread Sedge is relatively easy, as the plant is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and moisture conditions. It prefers moist to wet soils, but can also tolerate some dryness. The plant can be grown from seed or by dividing mature clumps, and should be planted in a location that receives full to partial sun.

Overall, Gingerbread Sedge is a fascinating and valuable plant that plays an important role in wetland ecosystems and has a rich cultural history. Whether grown for its ecological benefits, traditional medicinal uses, or ornamental appeal, this versatile plant is sure to continue captivating gardeners and naturalists alike.

Gingerbread Sedge is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of climatic conditions. It is found in temperate regions of Europe and Asia, and has been introduced to North America, where it is now found in wetlands across the eastern and central parts of the continent.

One of the unique characteristics of Gingerbread Sedge is its scent, which is often described as spicy and reminiscent of gingerbread. This fragrance is most pronounced in the plant's leaves, which can be crushed or bruised to release the scent. The scent of Gingerbread Sedge is thought to be an adaptation that deters herbivores and other pests from feeding on the plant.

In addition to its ecological and cultural significance, Gingerbread Sedge is also a valuable plant in terms of its potential for use in phytoremediation. Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove or detoxify pollutants from soil or water. Gingerbread Sedge has been found to be effective at removing heavy metals such as lead and cadmium from contaminated soils, making it a promising plant for use in the restoration of polluted wetlands.

Gingerbread Sedge is a versatile plant with many potential uses and benefits. Its distinctive appearance, unique fragrance, and important ecological and cultural roles make it a fascinating plant to study and appreciate. Whether grown for ornamental purposes, ecological restoration, or other applications, Gingerbread Sedge is a plant with much to offer.

Gingerbread Sedge has a fibrous root system that helps it to stabilize soil and prevent erosion in wetland habitats. This is particularly important in areas with high levels of water flow, where sediment erosion can be a serious problem. In addition, the plant's leaves and stems can help to slow down the movement of water, reducing the impact of flooding and allowing sediment to settle out of the water.

The plant's unique scent and appearance have also made it a popular subject for artists and photographers. The delicate, arching leaves of the plant create a graceful, flowing effect that can be visually striking, particularly when viewed against a backdrop of water or other wetland plants. The plant's distinctive scent can also add an additional sensory element to art and photography, adding depth and complexity to the experience of viewing the work.

Overall, Gingerbread Sedge is a fascinating and valuable plant with a wide range of potential uses and benefits. Whether grown for its ecological, cultural, or aesthetic value, this plant is sure to continue to capture the imagination of researchers, gardeners, artists, and naturalists alike. As wetland habitats continue to face threats from development, climate change, and other factors, plants like Gingerbread Sedge may play an increasingly important role in preserving these critical ecosystems for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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