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True Fox Sedge

Carex vulpina

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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, Tufted Sedge, Water Sedge, White Beak-sedge, White Sedge, Wood Club-rush, Wood Sedge, Yellow Sedge
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, gardens, meadows, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
Reddish-brown flower spikes.
The fruit is a nutlet, technically known as an achene.
Dark green, linear, simple, alternate leaves, triangular in cross-section. Unlike False Fox Sedge (Carex otrubae), True Fox Sedge has sharply angled winged concave stems. Also, unlike False Fox Sedge, the ligules are short and blunt, and the leaves have no auricles.
Other Names:
Fox Sedge, Tawny Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex vulpina, also known as fox sedge or tawny sedge, is a species of flowering plant in the family Cyperaceae. It is native to North America and typically grows in wetland habitats such as bogs, fens, and wet meadows. The plant has narrow, pointed leaves and small spikes of brownish-green flowers. It is a wetland obligate species and typically occurs in areas with high water table. It is often used in landscaping and erosion control in wetland restoration projects. It is also known as a host plant for some butterfly species and its seeds are food for some waterfowls.


Carex vulpina, commonly known as True Fox Sedge, is a species of sedge found in wetlands and along the edges of streams, ponds, and lakes throughout much of North America. This sedge is one of the most widespread and abundant species of wetland plants in North America and is an important component of many wetland ecosystems.


True Fox Sedge is a perennial plant that can grow up to three feet in height. The stems are triangular and spongy, with long, flat leaves that grow from the base of the stem. The leaves are dark green and can be up to 18 inches long and 1 inch wide. The inflorescence of the True Fox Sedge is a dense, spike-like cluster of flowers that are greenish-brown in color. The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer and are followed by small, brownish-black fruits.


True Fox Sedge is a wetland plant that is typically found in marshes, swamps, and along the edges of streams, ponds, and lakes. This sedge is adapted to living in saturated soils and can tolerate periodic flooding. It is often found growing in dense stands, providing important habitat for a variety of wetland wildlife.

Ecological Importance

True Fox Sedge plays an important role in wetland ecosystems. The dense stands of this sedge provide habitat and food for a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, songbirds, and small mammals. The spongy stems of True Fox Sedge can also help to slow the flow of water, reducing erosion and filtering pollutants from the water.

In addition to its ecological importance, True Fox Sedge has also been used by humans for a variety of purposes. Native Americans used the leaves of this sedge to weave baskets and mats, and the roots were used for medicinal purposes.


Despite its abundance, True Fox Sedge is still threatened by habitat loss and degradation. Wetland loss and degradation due to agriculture, urbanization, and other human activities have resulted in a decline in wetland plant species, including True Fox Sedge. Conservation efforts are focused on preserving and restoring wetland habitats, which will benefit not only True Fox Sedge but also a variety of other wetland plant and animal species.

True Fox Sedge is an important wetland plant species that plays a vital role in wetland ecosystems. Its spongy stems, dense stands, and ability to slow the flow of water are just a few of the characteristics that make it an important component of wetland habitats. Conservation efforts are necessary to protect and restore wetlands, and by doing so, we can help to ensure the survival of True Fox Sedge and many other wetland plant and animal species.

More Information

True Fox Sedge is a hardy and adaptable plant that can thrive in a variety of wetland habitats. It is able to tolerate periods of drought as well as periodic flooding, and its spongy stems and extensive root systems allow it to anchor itself in the wetland soils.

One interesting fact about True Fox Sedge is that it is a food source for several species of wildlife. The seeds are eaten by waterfowl and songbirds, while the foliage is browsed by muskrats and other small mammals. The plant also provides cover and nesting sites for waterfowl and other wetland birds.

In addition to its ecological and wildlife value, True Fox Sedge also has cultural significance. The plant has been used for centuries by Indigenous peoples for basketry, mat weaving, and other crafts. The roots were also used for medicinal purposes, including treating respiratory ailments and skin conditions.

While True Fox Sedge is not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species, it is still vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation. Wetlands are among the most threatened ecosystems in the world, and conserving and restoring these habitats is crucial for the survival of wetland plant and animal species, including True Fox Sedge.

Conservation efforts aimed at preserving and restoring wetland habitats can benefit not only True Fox Sedge, but also a wide variety of other wetland plant and animal species, as well as the ecosystem services that wetlands provide, such as water purification, flood control, and carbon sequestration.

True Fox Sedge is a fascinating and important plant species with both ecological and cultural significance. Conserving and restoring wetland habitats is crucial for the survival of this and many other wetland plant and animal species, as well as the benefits that wetlands provide to humans and the planet as a whole.

One of the interesting aspects of True Fox Sedge is its role in soil stabilization and erosion control. Wetlands are important natural features that can help prevent soil erosion by reducing the impact of water runoff, and True Fox Sedge is particularly effective in this regard. The dense root system of the plant helps to hold soil in place, while the spongy stems can absorb and slow down the flow of water, reducing the impact of erosion and sedimentation.

Another interesting feature of True Fox Sedge is its ability to tolerate a wide range of water conditions. While it is typically found in wetland habitats with high soil moisture and nutrient availability, it is also able to tolerate drier conditions and nutrient-poor soils. This adaptability makes it a valuable species for wetland restoration and conservation projects, as it can be used to establish and stabilize new wetland areas.

In addition to its ecological and practical benefits, True Fox Sedge is also a beautiful plant with an attractive and distinctive appearance. Its long, narrow leaves and dense clusters of flowers make it a popular choice for landscaping and ornamental purposes. It is often used in rain gardens and other low-maintenance landscaping applications, where its ability to tolerate wet conditions and soil instability make it a valuable addition.

In summary, True Fox Sedge is a fascinating and important plant species with many ecological, cultural, and practical benefits. Its adaptability, ecological value, and ornamental qualities make it a valuable species for wetland conservation and restoration projects, as well as for use in landscaping and gardening. By working to conserve and restore wetlands, we can help to ensure the continued survival and success of True Fox Sedge and many other important wetland plant and animal species.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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