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Hair Sedge

Carex capillaris

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, 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:
30 centimetres tall
Bogs, gardens, grassland, marshes, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, wetland.

Green, no petals
Very short, widely spaced female catkins with long and slender hair-like stalks.
The fruit is an achene (nutlet), rarely beaked.
Greyish-green, slender, grass-like leaves. Perennial.
Other Names:
Fine-leaved Sedge, Hair-like Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Carex capillaris, also known as Hair Sedge or Fine-leaved Sedge, is a species of sedge that is native to North America, specifically in Canada and the United States. It is a perennial herb that typically grows in wetland habitats such as marshes, bogs, and along the edges of streams and rivers. The plant has long, narrow leaves and small, inconspicuous brownish or greenish flowers that grow in spikes. It is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and is also sometimes grown for its medicinal properties. It is considered a common species in many areas and not considered of conservation concern.


Hair Sedge, or Carex capillaris, is a perennial plant that belongs to the Cyperaceae family. It is a native plant to Europe and is commonly found in damp or wet habitats such as fens, wet meadows, and marshes. Hair Sedge is a versatile plant, able to thrive in both sunny and shaded areas, making it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers.


Hair Sedge is a relatively small plant, growing to a maximum height of 30cm. It has narrow, grass-like leaves that are a bright green color and grow to around 1mm in width. The stems of the plant are slender and are topped with small flowers that are arranged in clusters, known as spikes. These spikes are initially green in color but gradually turn brown as they mature.

Care and Maintenance

Hair Sedge is a low maintenance plant, making it an excellent choice for those who want to add some greenery to their gardens without the need for constant care. It prefers damp or wet soil, and as such, it should be watered regularly to ensure that the soil remains moist. However, it is essential not to overwater the plant as this can lead to root rot.

In terms of sunlight, Hair Sedge can tolerate both full sun and partial shade. However, it is important to note that the plant may require more frequent watering if it is exposed to full sun for prolonged periods.


Hair Sedge can be propagated through division or from seed. Division is the most common method and should be done in the spring or autumn when the plant is not actively growing. The clump can be divided into smaller sections, each with their own roots and foliage. These can then be planted in moist soil and watered regularly until they are established.

If you choose to propagate from seed, this should be done in the autumn, and the seeds should be sown into damp soil. It is essential to keep the soil moist until the seedlings have germinated and established themselves.


Hair Sedge has a range of benefits, both in terms of its visual appeal and its ecological benefits. It is an attractive plant that can add a splash of green to any garden or landscape. Additionally, it is a valuable plant for wildlife, providing habitat and food for a range of insects and birds.

Hair Sedge is a versatile and attractive plant that is relatively low maintenance, making it an excellent choice for both gardeners and landscapers. Its ability to thrive in damp or wet soils and in both full sun and partial shade means that it can be used in a variety of settings. Additionally, its ecological benefits make it a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.

Ecological Importance

Hair Sedge is a valuable plant for wildlife, providing habitat and food for a range of insects and birds. The plant's small flowers are a source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, while its leaves provide cover and nesting material for birds.

In addition to its value for wildlife, Hair Sedge is also a useful plant for erosion control. Its extensive root system helps to stabilize soil, making it an excellent choice for wetland restoration projects or for areas with poor soil quality.


Hair Sedge has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It has been used to treat a range of ailments, including digestive issues, respiratory problems, and skin conditions.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Hair Sedge has also been used for centuries to make baskets and other woven items. Its long, narrow leaves are flexible and durable, making them an ideal material for weaving.

In modern times, Hair Sedge is primarily used for ornamental purposes. It is a popular choice for landscaping and can be used to create a lush, green ground cover in damp or wet areas.

Cultural Significance

Hair Sedge has been used in various cultural practices throughout history. In Europe, it was used in traditional medicine and was believed to have magical properties. It was also used to make baskets and other woven items.

In some Native American cultures, Hair Sedge was used for spiritual purposes. It was believed to have cleansing properties and was used in purification rituals.

Overall, Hair Sedge is a versatile and valuable plant with a range of benefits. Its low maintenance requirements, ecological benefits, and ornamental value make it an excellent choice for a range of gardening and landscaping projects.

More Interesting Facts about Hair Sedge

Here are a few more interesting facts about Hair Sedge:

  • Hair Sedge is also known as Thin-leaved Sedge or Fine-leaved Sedge due to its narrow, grass-like leaves.
  • The plant is found across much of Europe, including in the United Kingdom, where it is a common sight in wetland habitats.
  • Hair Sedge is a popular choice for rain gardens, which are designed to capture and filter rainwater runoff. The plant's ability to thrive in wet soil makes it an ideal choice for this type of landscaping.
  • The plant has also been used in phytoremediation, which is the use of plants to clean up contaminated soil. Hair Sedge's extensive root system can help to absorb pollutants and improve soil quality.
  • In some cultures, Hair Sedge is considered a symbol of resilience and adaptability. Its ability to thrive in a range of conditions, from damp soils to full sun, is seen as a reflection of these traits.
  • Hair Sedge is a relatively short-lived plant, with a lifespan of around 3-5 years. However, it can self-seed, meaning that new plants will often grow from the seeds of established plants.
  • While Hair Sedge is generally considered a safe plant, it can cause skin irritation in some people. If you are sensitive to plants in the Cyperaceae family, it's best to avoid handling Hair Sedge without gloves.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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