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String Sedge

Carex chordorrhiza

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, 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, meadows, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
2 to 5 crowded, oval flower spikes. Stalkless.
Similar to Oval Sedge (Carex leporina) but the fruits are yellowish.
A rare perennial sedge of highland bogs.
Other Names:
Creeping Sedge, Leafy Sedge, Rooted Sedge, Rope-root Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex chordorrhiza, also known as the "Leafy Sedge" or "Rooted Sedge" is a species of flowering plant in the Cyperaceae family. It is native to North America and can be found in wet meadows, bogs, and along streams and rivers. It is a perennial plant with long, narrow leaves and spikes of small, inconspicuous flowers. It typically grows to be about 2-3 feet tall, and prefers full sun to partial shade. It is considered a valuable plant for wildlife habitat and erosion control. The plant is characterized by its deep-reaching roots and rhizomes.


String sedge (Carex chordorrhiza) is a fascinating plant that belongs to the sedge family Cyperaceae. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that is found in wetlands, marshes, and other damp habitats throughout North America. String sedge has several common names, including cordroot sedge, hairy sedge, and knotted sedge, all of which refer to its characteristic long, thin, and wiry stems.

Description and Habitat

String sedge typically grows to a height of 1 to 3 feet and has long, narrow leaves that are often curved or twisted. The stems are thin and wiry, with a reddish-brown color, and are topped by small, inconspicuous flowers that are borne in spikes. The plant prefers wet soils and is commonly found in marshes, bogs, and wet meadows.


Historically, Native American tribes have used string sedge for a variety of medicinal and practical purposes. The plant was used to treat ailments such as headaches, toothaches, and sore throats, as well as to soothe skin irritations and burns. The tough, fibrous stems of string sedge were also used to make cordage, baskets, and mats.

Ecological Importance

String sedge plays an important ecological role in wetland ecosystems. Its extensive root system helps to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, while the plant itself provides habitat for a variety of wetland-dependent insects, birds, and mammals. In addition, string sedge is an important food source for many waterfowl and other wildlife species.

Conservation Status

While string sedge is not currently listed as threatened or endangered, it is considered a sensitive species in some states and is protected in certain areas. Wetland loss and degradation are major threats to string sedge and other wetland-dependent species, so efforts to protect and restore wetlands are critical to the survival of this and other wetland species.

String sedge is a fascinating plant with a rich history of use and an important ecological role in wetland ecosystems. Its long, wiry stems and narrow leaves give it a unique appearance, and its value to wildlife and humans make it an important species to protect and conserve.


String sedge can be propagated by seed or division. Seeds can be collected in the fall and sown in the spring, while division can be done in the early spring or late fall. The plant prefers wet soils, so when propagating, it is important to ensure that the soil remains moist until the plant is established.


String sedge can be grown in a variety of settings, including wetlands, rain gardens, and other moist areas. The plant is low-maintenance and does not require fertilization or pruning. It can also tolerate periods of drought, although it prefers consistently moist soils.


Identifying string sedge can be challenging, as it closely resembles several other sedge species. However, there are a few key features that can help distinguish it from other species. String sedge has long, thin, wiry stems that are often twisted or curved. The leaves are also long and narrow, and the flowers are small and inconspicuous, with green or brown spikelets.


String sedge is a fascinating plant that is an important part of wetland ecosystems throughout North America. Its long, wiry stems and narrow leaves give it a unique appearance, and its value to wildlife and humans make it an important species to protect and conserve. Whether you're a gardener looking to add a low-maintenance plant to your rain garden or a wetland restoration practitioner seeking to improve the health of a wetland, string sedge is a plant that is well worth considering.

More Information

One interesting fact about string sedge is that its name, "chordorrhiza," comes from the Greek words "chord" and "rhiza," meaning "cord root." This name refers to the plant's tough, fibrous roots, which were traditionally used by Native American tribes to make cordage and other practical items.

In addition to its practical uses, string sedge has also played a role in traditional medicine. The plant was used by some Native American tribes to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, toothaches, and skin irritations. Some early European settlers also used string sedge as a remedy for colds and fevers.

Despite its ecological and cultural importance, wetland loss and degradation remain major threats to string sedge and other wetland-dependent species. Habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and invasive species are all major threats to the survival of wetland ecosystems and the species that depend on them. To help protect wetlands and the species they support, it is important to support wetland restoration and conservation efforts and to educate others about the value of wetland ecosystems.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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