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Rock Sedge

Carex rupestris

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, 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:
60 centimetres tall
Cliffs, mountains, riversides, rocky places, waterside.

Brown, no petals
Flower spikes, up to 1.5cm long. Pale-edged, dark reddish-brown glumes. Often described as a shy-flowerer. 3 stigmas.
The fruit is a greenish-brown nutlet, up to 3mm in length. Very short beaked.
Curly, grass-like leaves, rolled of folded along their length.
Other Names:
Curly Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Carex rupestris, also known as rock sedge, is a species of perennial herb that is native to North America. It typically grows in dry, rocky or gravelly habitats such as cliffs, rocky outcrops, and along the edges of streams and ponds. It can grow up to 60 cm tall, and has narrow, green leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers that are arranged in spikes. The spikes are typically green to brown in color. It is often used in landscaping and gardening as an attractive and hardy plant for dry or rocky areas, but also can be found in natural habitats. It's typically found in eastern North America, from Newfoundland to Minnesota and south to Georgia and Mississippi. It is a good plant for rocky or gravelly habitats, and is a good food source for birds and other wildlife.


Rock Sedge, also known as Carex rupestris, is a perennial grass-like plant that belongs to the sedge family, Cyperaceae. It is a native plant to the eastern United States and can be found growing in rocky, dry habitats such as rock outcrops, cliffs, and talus slopes.

The Rock Sedge plant has narrow leaves that grow up to 6 inches long and ¼ inch wide. The leaves are slightly rough on the surface and are dark green in color. The plant produces flower spikes that are pale green or yellowish-brown in color and grow up to 2 feet tall. The flowers bloom from May to July and are wind-pollinated.

Rock Sedge is a valuable plant in landscaping and gardening, particularly in rock gardens, slopes, and dry areas. It can be used as a ground cover or accent plant to add texture and visual interest to the landscape. It is also an excellent plant for erosion control because of its deep and fibrous roots that hold the soil in place.

In addition to its aesthetic and practical uses, Rock Sedge also provides ecological benefits. It serves as a food source and habitat for various wildlife, including insects, birds, and small mammals. It is also a host plant for some butterfly species, such as the Appalachian Brown and the Bronze Copper.

Rock Sedge is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care once established. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It is drought-tolerant and can survive in dry conditions, but occasional watering may be necessary during periods of prolonged drought. The plant can be propagated by seed or division in the spring or fall.

Rock Sedge is a versatile plant that offers numerous benefits to the environment, wildlife, and landscape design. It is easy to care for and can thrive in a variety of conditions. Whether used as a ground cover, accent plant, or erosion control, Rock Sedge is an excellent choice for anyone looking to enhance their outdoor space with a beautiful and functional plant.

Here are some additional interesting facts about Rock Sedge:

  1. Medicinal properties: Rock Sedge has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. The plant contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and may be useful in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
  2. Cultural significance: Rock Sedge has cultural significance for Native American tribes such as the Cherokee, who used it for weaving baskets and making mats.
  3. Similar species: Rock Sedge can be easily mistaken for other similar sedge species, such as Carex radiata and Carex pensylvanica. Careful observation of the leaves, flowers, and growth habits can help distinguish these species from one another.
  4. Important ecological role: In addition to providing habitat and food for wildlife, Rock Sedge plays an important ecological role in its native habitat. Its deep roots help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, and it can also help to conserve water by reducing runoff.
  5. Adaptability: Rock Sedge is known for its ability to grow in harsh environments, such as rocky outcrops and talus slopes. It can also adapt to a wide range of soil types and moisture conditions, making it a valuable plant for restoration projects and other conservation efforts.
  6. Habitat loss: Like many native plant species, Rock Sedge is threatened by habitat loss due to human activities such as development, mining, and quarrying. Conservation efforts are needed to protect this valuable plant and its important role in the ecosystem.
  7. Uses in horticulture: Rock Sedge is a popular plant for horticultural use due to its attractive appearance and hardiness. It is often used in rock gardens, border plantings, and other landscaping projects.
  8. Leaf arrangement: Rock Sedge has alternate leaves that grow in a spiral pattern around the stem. This unique leaf arrangement is an adaptation that helps the plant maximize its exposure to sunlight and water.
  9. Edible uses: The roots of Rock Sedge are edible and have been used by some Native American tribes as a food source. The plant is also used in some traditional medicines for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  10. Ecological partnerships: Like many plants, Rock Sedge forms partnerships with fungi and other microorganisms in the soil. These symbiotic relationships help the plant absorb nutrients and water more efficiently and may play an important role in its survival in harsh environments.

Overall, Rock Sedge is a fascinating plant with a wide range of uses and benefits. Whether you are interested in gardening, conservation, or simply learning more about the natural world, this plant is definitely worth exploring further.


Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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