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White Sedge

Carex canescens

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, Tawny Sedge, Thin-spiked Wood Sedge, Triangular Club-rush, True Fox Sedge, Tufted Sedge, Water Sedge, White Beak-sedge, Wood Club-rush, Wood Sedge, Yellow Sedge
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Bogs, heathland, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, swamps, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Green, no petals
Short, oblong-oval, cylindrical flower spikes. Female flower spikes have whitish glumes.
The fruit is an achene.
Pale green, grass-like leaves and sharp 3-sides stems. The leaves are about 3mm wide.
Other Names:
Gray Bog Sedge, Gray Sedge, Hoary Sedge, Silvery Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex canescens, also known as the gray sedge or silvery sedge, is a species of sedge native to North America. It typically grows to be around 30-100 cm tall and has a clumping habit. The leaves are narrow and grayish-green in color and the flowers are small, inconspicuous and arranged in spikes. It is found in a variety of habitats including wetland, meadows, and along the edges of streams and ponds. It is also tolerant of a wide range of soil types and is often used in landscaping and erosion control projects. It is also used as a food source for grazing animals.


White Sedge, also known as Carex canescens, is a perennial plant that is native to many parts of the northern hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia. It is a member of the sedge family, which includes around 2,000 species of grass-like plants.

White Sedge is a hardy plant that is well-adapted to living in harsh environments. It is commonly found in wetlands, bogs, and other areas with high levels of moisture. The plant has a unique appearance, with long, narrow leaves that are a bluish-green color and a tall, slender stem that can grow up to 2 feet in height.

One of the most notable characteristics of White Sedge is its ability to grow in areas with low nutrient levels. This is because the plant has developed a specialized root system that is able to absorb nutrients from the soil more efficiently than many other plants. This makes White Sedge an important component of many wetland ecosystems, as it helps to maintain the balance of nutrients in the soil.

White Sedge also provides important habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Its dense growth habit provides cover and nesting sites for many bird species, while its seeds are an important food source for small mammals and waterfowl. The plant's root system also helps to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, which is particularly important in areas with high levels of water flow.

Despite its importance to wetland ecosystems, White Sedge is facing a number of threats in many parts of its range. Habitat loss, pollution, and climate change are all contributing to declines in populations of this plant. Efforts are currently underway to protect and restore wetland habitats, and to promote the conservation of White Sedge and other important wetland species.

White Sedge is an important plant species that plays a critical role in maintaining healthy wetland ecosystems. Its unique adaptations and ability to grow in harsh environments make it a valuable component of many natural habitats. As we continue to face threats to our natural world, it is important to take action to protect and conserve species like White Sedge for future generations to enjoy.

White Sedge is an interesting plant with several unique features that make it well-adapted to living in wetland environments. One of these features is its ability to tolerate waterlogged soil. The plant is able to do this by growing a specialized type of root called aerenchyma. These roots contain air spaces that allow the plant to exchange gases with the atmosphere, even when the soil is saturated with water.

Another important feature of White Sedge is its ability to store nutrients in its rhizomes, which are underground stems that grow horizontally. This allows the plant to survive in areas with low nutrient levels, which is common in wetland environments. In addition, the plant's leaves are covered in a waxy coating that helps to prevent water loss, which is important in wet environments where water can be scarce.

White Sedge also plays an important role in carbon sequestration. Wetlands are one of the most effective natural carbon sinks on the planet, and plants like White Sedge help to store carbon in their roots and other parts of their biomass. This makes them an important tool in the fight against climate change, as wetlands can help to offset some of the carbon emissions that are driving global warming.

In terms of human uses, White Sedge has a few interesting applications. In some cultures, the plant has been used to make baskets, mats, and other woven items. The roots and rhizomes of the plant are also edible and have been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

White Sedge is a fascinating plant with many important ecological and cultural roles. As wetlands continue to face threats from human development and climate change, it is critical that we work to protect and conserve this and other important wetland species. By doing so, we can help to preserve these valuable ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.

Another important benefit of White Sedge is its ability to help filter and purify water in wetland ecosystems. Wetlands are important water filters, as they are able to trap and remove pollutants, excess nutrients, and other harmful substances from the water. White Sedge and other wetland plants help to support this function by absorbing and metabolizing these substances, and by providing a physical barrier that slows down the flow of water and allows particles to settle out.

White Sedge is also an important indicator species for wetland health. As a plant that is highly adapted to wetland environments, it is very sensitive to changes in water quality, nutrient levels, and other environmental factors. Changes in the abundance or distribution of White Sedge can therefore serve as an early warning sign of problems in wetland ecosystems.

In addition, White Sedge provides important ecosystem services to human communities. Wetlands, and the plants and animals that live in them, help to regulate water flow and prevent flooding. They also provide important recreational opportunities, such as hiking, bird watching, and fishing. Protecting and conserving wetlands, and the species that inhabit them, is therefore important for both ecological and human well-being.

Finally, it is worth noting that White Sedge is just one of many important wetland species that are facing threats from human activities. Climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction are all putting pressure on wetlands and the species that depend on them. By working to protect and conserve wetland ecosystems, we can help to preserve the many valuable services that they provide to both nature and people.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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