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Tawny Sedge

Carex hostiana

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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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, 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:
2 metres tall
Bogs, fens, gardens, grassland, marshes, meadows, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
A single male catkin is situated at the top of the stem. The catkin is similar to that of Green-ribbed Sedge (Carex binervis) but shorter. Below the male catkin are 2 to 4 female catkins which are spaced out along the stem.
The fruit is about 5mm in length and tapers upwards into a long, narrow beak. The fruit is not two-ribbed like the similar-looking Green-ribbed Sedge. It has several ribs.
The yellowish-green leaves are 3-sided at the top. The leaves are lighter in colour than those of Green-ribbed Sedge.
Other Names:
Host's Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex hostiana, also known as Host's sedge, is a species of sedge that is native to North America. It is typically found in wetland habitats such as bogs, fens, and along the edges of streams and rivers. The plant has narrow leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers that appear in the spring or early summer. It can be used in landscaping and gardening, especially for wetland restoration projects and for erosion control in damp areas.


Tawny sedge, scientifically known as Carex hostiana, is a perennial sedge that is native to North America. It is a member of the Cyperaceae family, which also includes other common sedges like Carex pensylvanica and Carex blanda. Tawny sedge is an attractive plant that is commonly used in landscaping, and it is also important ecologically as a food source for wildlife and as a stabilizer of soil and sediment.

Appearance and Characteristics

Tawny sedge is a grass-like plant that typically grows to be about 1 to 2 feet tall, although it can occasionally grow up to 3 feet tall. Its stems are erect and have a triangular shape, with long leaves that are narrow and pointed. The leaves grow in clumps at the base of the plant and are typically about 1/4 inch wide. The flowers of tawny sedge are small and brownish in color, and they bloom in late spring to early summer.

Habitat and Distribution

Tawny sedge is found throughout much of the eastern and central United States, including in states like New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. It typically grows in moist soils, such as in wetlands, along stream banks, and in other areas with high moisture levels. It is also able to grow in drier soils, although it will not reach its maximum potential in these conditions.

Ecological Significance

Tawny sedge is an important plant for wildlife, as it provides food and habitat for a variety of species. For example, the seeds of tawny sedge are eaten by a number of bird species, including the swamp sparrow and the American tree sparrow. The plant is also used as a nesting material for some bird species, and it provides cover and shelter for a variety of small mammals and amphibians.

In addition to its importance as a food and habitat source for wildlife, tawny sedge is also important for its ability to stabilize soil and sediment. Because it is a perennial plant with strong, deep roots, it is able to hold soil and sediment in place, even in areas with high water flow or erosion. This can help to prevent erosion and sedimentation in wetland areas and other important habitats.

Landscaping Uses

Tawny sedge is an attractive plant that is commonly used in landscaping. Because it is a low-maintenance plant that is able to grow in a variety of soil types and moisture levels, it is well-suited for use in a range of garden settings. It can be used as a ground cover or as a border plant, and it is also effective in rain gardens and other areas with high moisture levels.

Overall, tawny sedge is an important and attractive plant that has a number of ecological and landscaping uses. Whether you are looking to attract wildlife to your garden or to stabilize soil in a wetland area, tawny sedge is a great choice. With its hardy nature and low maintenance requirements, it is an excellent addition to any garden or natural area.


Tawny sedge is a relatively easy plant to grow and can be cultivated in a range of soil types and moisture levels. It prefers moist to wet soil, but it can also grow in drier soils. Tawny sedge can be grown from seed, although it is often easier to propagate the plant through division. This involves separating the plant into smaller sections and replanting them in a new location.

Care and Maintenance

Once established, tawny sedge requires minimal care and maintenance. It is a low-maintenance plant that does not require fertilization or regular watering. However, it may benefit from occasional pruning to maintain its shape and size. Additionally, removing any dead or damaged foliage can help to promote new growth and prevent disease.

Potential Issues

Tawny sedge is generally a hardy and disease-resistant plant. However, it can be susceptible to some fungal diseases, particularly in areas with high humidity or moisture levels. To prevent disease, it is important to maintain good air circulation around the plant and to avoid overwatering. In addition, tawny sedge may be susceptible to damage from deer and other browsing animals, so it may be necessary to protect the plant with fencing or other physical barriers.

Tawny sedge is a versatile and attractive plant that has a range of ecological and landscaping uses. Whether you are looking to attract wildlife to your garden or to stabilize soil in a wetland area, tawny sedge is a great choice. With its hardy nature and low maintenance requirements, it is an excellent addition to any garden or natural area. Consider incorporating tawny sedge into your landscape to enjoy its beauty and ecological benefits for years to come.

Uses in Traditional Medicine

Tawny sedge has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The Iroquois people used the plant as a medicinal herb to treat a range of ailments, including diarrhea, menstrual disorders, and kidney problems. The plant was also used externally as a poultice to treat wounds and skin irritations. While there is limited scientific research on the medicinal properties of tawny sedge, some studies suggest that the plant may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Conservation Status

While tawny sedge is not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species, it is important to maintain healthy populations of the plant in natural areas. Wetland areas, in particular, are important habitats for tawny sedge and other wetland plants. It is important to protect these areas from development and other disturbances that could damage or destroy these habitats. In addition, tawny sedge can be cultivated and used in landscaping, which can help to reduce pressure on wild populations of the plant.

In conclusion, tawny sedge is a valuable plant with a range of ecological, landscaping, and medicinal uses. With its hardy nature and low maintenance requirements, it is an excellent addition to any garden or natural area. As we continue to learn more about the plant's ecological and medicinal properties, it is important to protect and maintain healthy populations of tawny sedge in natural areas. Consider incorporating tawny sedge into your garden or natural area to enjoy its beauty and benefits.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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