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Russet Sedge

Carex saxatilis

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, 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
Gardens, mountains, riverbanks, rocky places, waterside, wetland.

Black, no petals
Rounded female flower spikes with purplish-brown glumes.
The fruits is an achene (nutlet). The nearly black achene is abruptly narrowed to a beak.
Simple, alternate, grass-like, folded or grooved leaves. Perennial.
Other Names:
Highland Sedge, Rock Sedge.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Carex saxatilis, also known as rock sedge, is a species of flowering plant in the family Cyperaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia and North America and typically grows in rocky or gravelly habitats such as rocky slopes, talus, and along streambanks. The plant has narrow, pointed leaves and small spikes of brownish-green flowers. It is a hardy species that can tolerate poor soil conditions and can grow in both dry and moist habitats. It is often used in landscaping and erosion control in rocky or gravelly areas, and also it can be used for soil stabilization on slopes.


Russet Sedge, also known as Carex saxatilis, is a perennial sedge that is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. This plant is commonly found growing in grasslands, open woodlands, and heathlands, and it can tolerate a wide range of soil types, including sand, loam, and clay.


Russet Sedge typically grows to a height of 10-30 cm, with leaves that are narrow and pointed, measuring between 1-3 mm wide. The stems are slender, smooth, and reddish-brown in color, giving the plant its distinctive russet appearance. The flowers of Russet Sedge are small and inconspicuous, appearing as spikes that are 1-4 cm long and contain both male and female flowers.

Ecological Importance

Russet Sedge plays an important role in many ecosystems. It provides cover and nesting sites for small mammals, birds, and insects, and its seeds are a source of food for a variety of wildlife, including songbirds and small rodents. The plant's dense root system helps to stabilize soil, preventing erosion and promoting soil health.

Cultural Significance

Russet Sedge has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, and is believed to have a number of therapeutic properties. The plant's roots were often used to make a tea that was thought to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and to promote relaxation and restful sleep.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Russet Sedge has also been used in traditional crafts. The plant's leaves can be woven into baskets, mats, and other objects, and its stems were often used to make cordage.

Conservation Status

Russet Sedge is a common plant and is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction. However, like many plant species, it may be impacted by habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, and climate change. It is important to monitor the health of Russet Sedge populations and to protect the habitats where the plant occurs.

Russet Sedge is a fascinating plant with a rich ecological and cultural history. It is an important part of many ecosystems, providing habitat and food for a wide range of wildlife. As with all plant species, it is important to protect Russet Sedge and its habitats, so that future generations can continue to benefit from its many ecological and cultural values.

Uses in Gardening and Landscaping

Russet Sedge is a popular plant for use in gardening and landscaping. It is often used as a ground cover in rock gardens, borders, and other areas where a low-growing, drought-tolerant plant is needed. Its attractive russet color and fine texture make it a great addition to many garden designs, and it can be planted in masses for a striking effect.

Russet Sedge is also used in erosion control projects and for stabilizing slopes and banks. Its extensive root system helps to anchor soil and prevent erosion, making it a valuable plant for use in restoration and conservation projects.

Propagation and Care

Russet Sedge is easy to grow and propagate. It can be grown from seed or division, and prefers well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. Regular watering is recommended during the first year of growth, after which the plant becomes more drought-tolerant.

To propagate Russet Sedge, divide the plant in spring or fall, taking care to keep the roots intact. Plant the divisions in a prepared bed, spacing them 15-20 cm apart. Water the new plants regularly until they become established, after which they will require little maintenance.

Russet Sedge is a versatile and important plant species with many ecological, cultural, and practical uses. Its attractive appearance and hardy nature make it a great addition to many gardens and landscapes, and its ecological value as a habitat provider and erosion control plant make it an important species to protect and conserve. By planting and caring for Russet Sedge, we can help to ensure that this valuable plant continues to thrive and benefit both people and the environment.

Culinary Uses

In addition to its ecological, cultural, and gardening uses, Russet Sedge also has some culinary applications. The plant's roots and stems can be eaten raw or cooked, and have a slightly nutty flavor. In some parts of Europe, Russet Sedge has been used as a traditional food source, and is often cooked and eaten as a porridge or boiled and served with butter or cheese.

It should be noted, however, that Russet Sedge is not commonly consumed in modern times, and there is limited research on its safety and nutritional value as a food source. As with any wild plant, it is important to exercise caution when consuming Russet Sedge, and to consult with a knowledgeable expert before using the plant as a food source.


Russet Sedge is a fascinating plant with a rich ecological, cultural, and practical history. From its ecological value as a habitat provider and erosion control plant, to its cultural significance in traditional medicine and crafts, to its use in gardening and even as a potential food source, Russet Sedge has many applications and benefits.

As we continue to appreciate and utilize this valuable plant, it is important to also protect and conserve it and its habitats, so that future generations can continue to benefit from its many values. Through responsible propagation, cultivation, and conservation efforts, we can help to ensure that Russet Sedge remains a valuable and important plant species for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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