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Prickly Sedge

Carex muricata

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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, 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:
120 centimetres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, riverbanks, roadsides, scrub, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Green, no petals
Brownish-green flowers with awned glumes, up to 3cm in size. Similar in appearance to Spiked Sedge (Carex spicata) but it isn't tinged red/purple.
The fruits narrow gradually towards their ends. The fruit narrows more abruptly that the similar looking Spiked Sedge. The fruit appears in July and August.
A perennial grass-like sedge with very thin leaves. It grows in dense clumps, has long pointed ligules. The lighules are shorter and blunter than that of Spiked Sedge.
Other Names:
Spiky Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex muricata, commonly known as "spiky 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 muricata can grow in sun or shade, wet or dry soils and can tolerate some degree of flooding. The leaves of Carex muricata have a distinctive feature, they have sharp, stiff, needle-like projections along the leaf margin, hence the name "spiky sedge". 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.


Prickly Sedge, also known as Carex muricata, is a plant species that is native to North America. It is a perennial plant that can grow up to 4 feet tall and has a unique appearance with its prickly leaves and distinctive seed heads.

One of the most interesting features of Prickly Sedge is its ability to grow in a wide range of habitats, from wetlands and marshes to drier upland areas. This makes it a valuable plant for ecological restoration projects, where it can help stabilize soils, prevent erosion, and provide important habitat for wildlife.

Prickly Sedge is also an important food source for many animal species, including birds, rodents, and deer. Its seeds are particularly nutritious and are an important winter food source for many species.

In addition to its ecological importance, Prickly Sedge has a number of practical uses. For example, it has been used for centuries by indigenous people in North America as a medicinal plant, with various parts of the plant used to treat a range of ailments including headaches, diarrhea, and respiratory problems.

The plant has also been used for basket weaving, with its tough leaves providing an excellent material for weaving baskets and other objects.

Despite its many benefits, Prickly Sedge is not without its challenges. One of the biggest threats to the species is habitat loss, particularly due to the destruction of wetlands and other important ecosystems. Climate change is also a concern, as it is expected to cause shifts in the distribution of the species and its associated ecological communities.

Prickly Sedge is a fascinating and important plant species with a wide range of ecological, cultural, and practical uses. However, like many other plant and animal species, it is facing a number of challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure its continued survival and ecological functioning.

Prickly Sedge is a member of the sedge family, Cyperaceae, which is a diverse group of plants found around the world. The genus Carex is one of the largest in the family, with over 2,000 species worldwide.

Prickly Sedge has a distinctive appearance, with stiff, prickly leaves that are dark green in color. The leaves grow in a dense cluster at the base of the plant and can grow up to 3 feet long. The plant's stem is triangular in cross-section and can grow up to 4 feet tall. The flowers are small and inconspicuous and are produced in dense, cylindrical clusters called spikes. The spikes are 1-3 inches long and are greenish-brown in color.

Prickly Sedge is often found growing in wetlands and other areas with high moisture, such as marshes, bogs, and stream banks. However, it can also grow in drier upland areas, particularly in open woodlands and meadows. The plant is found throughout much of North America, from Alaska and northern Canada down to the southern United States.

In addition to its ecological and cultural uses, Prickly Sedge is also used in horticulture. It is often planted in wetland restoration projects and in native plant gardens. The plant is low-maintenance and can thrive in a variety of soil types and moisture conditions, making it a good choice for landscaping in areas with fluctuating water levels.

Prickly Sedge is a fascinating plant species with a wide range of ecological, cultural, and practical uses. Its unique appearance, adaptability to different habitats, and value to wildlife and humans make it an important plant to conserve and protect. By taking steps to address threats such as habitat loss and climate change, we can help ensure that Prickly Sedge and other important plant species continue to thrive in our ecosystems.

One of the key ecological roles of Prickly Sedge is its ability to help stabilize soils and prevent erosion. This is particularly important in wetland and riparian areas, where soil erosion can cause sedimentation and water pollution.

The plant's extensive root system helps hold soil in place, while its above-ground biomass traps sediment and organic matter. The dense cluster of leaves at the base of the plant also helps dissipate water flow and reduce the erosive power of runoff.

In addition to its role in erosion control, Prickly Sedge also provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife. The dense clumps of leaves and stems provide cover and nesting sites for birds and small mammals, while the plant's seeds are an important food source for many species.

One of the most interesting aspects of Prickly Sedge is its use by indigenous peoples in North America. The plant has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb, with various parts of the plant used to treat a range of ailments. For example, the roots have been used to treat respiratory problems and to ease childbirth, while the leaves have been used to treat headaches and fevers.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Prickly Sedge has been used for basket weaving by indigenous peoples. The tough leaves of the plant make an excellent material for weaving baskets and other objects. The plant has also been used as a thatching material for roofs and as a fiber source for cordage.

Overall, Prickly Sedge is a valuable and fascinating plant species with a rich ecological and cultural history. Its ability to thrive in a variety of habitats and provide important ecosystem services makes it an important species to conserve and protect.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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