Description & Overview

Common Wood Sedge is a native Wisconsin perennial grass, usually found growing in upland woods, mixed woodlands, degraded prairies, thickets, and savannas, typically in the lower two-thirds of the state. It is tough as nails and can grow in high-quality environments or disturbed, less-than-ideal sites where little else will grow. Versatile, it handles full sun to full shade and dry to moist to clay to compacted to rocky soils, establishing quickly to form a dense, low-growing groundcover of bright green leaves. It may sometimes be known as Eastern Wood Sedge.

Core Characteristics

Category: Grasses

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 6-20 inches

Mature Spread: 12-24 inches

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Mounded, clump - forming

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Full Shade

Site Requirements: Dry - mesic to moist, high - quality, or degraded soil

Flower: Inconspicuous, 3 to 4 pistillate spikes, erect

Bloom Period: May to June

Foliage: Bright green, prominent midrib on the underside, <1" wide, up to 2' long

Fall Color: Semi - evergreen

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Spike of achenes, 2 - 3mm, 3 - sided, May - July

Suggested Uses

With its ability to tolerate just about any soil type and sunlight conditions, Common Wood Sedge can be used in a variety of settings. Small clumps or tufts will eventually spread, topped by interesting seed heads that sit atop short spikes, adding a bit of texture.

Use it along a pond edge, stream bank, or woodland edge in full sun or shade, where it will help keep weeds at bay.

Plant along a woodland pathway to define the edges or beneath canopy trees such as Sugar Maple, Musclewood, Hickory, Oaks, and Dogwood to act as a living mulch.

Intermingle with other already-established plants to fill in empty areas and act as a groundcover.

Common Wood Sedge is a native Wisconsin perennial grass, usually found growing in upland woods, mixed woodlands, degraded prairies, thickets, and sava…

Wildlife Value

Common Wood Sedge is a great source of food for birds including Wild Turkey, Ruffed Grouse, Woodcock, Sparrows, Towhees, Juncos, Cardinals, and Redpolls whom all enjoy the seeds.

Gray and Fox squirrels will also eat the seeds.

Common Wood Sedge is a food source for grasshoppers, the larvae of billbugs, leafminer flies, stink bugs, and aphids. It is a host plant for the caterpillars of the Appalachian Brown and Eyed Brown moths.

Carex species provide excellent cover wildlife including toads, frogs, and turtles.

Maintenance Tips

Common Wood Sedge is very low maintenance once established. It can spread quickly by rhizomes and seed– keep this in mind when siting. If you’re okay with it spreading, it’s an adaptable and versatile option.

Common Wood Sedge is a native Wisconsin perennial grass, usually found growing in upland woods, mixed woodlands, degraded prairies, thickets, and sava…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: Yes

Common Wood Sedge has no serious pests or diseases.

Leaf Lore

The genus name Carex is Latin and is the old name for sedges. The specific epithet blanda means “mild, pleasing or charming” perhaps referring to the attractive overall appearance of the plant.

Carex blanda was named by Chester Dewey (1784-1867), an American botanist and professor at Williams College and The University of Rochester who extensively studied the Carex genus culminating in a 43-year series of papers titled Caricography.

Companion Plants

When used in a woodland setting, combine Common Wood Sedge with those that enjoy similar conditions such as Zig Zag Goldenrod, Canada Wild Ginger, Wild Geranium, Jack in the Pulpit, Mayapple, Lady Fern, Culver’s Root, Virginia Bluebells, Giant Solomon’s Seal, or Purple Meadow Rue.

Combine Common Wood Sedge with plants in a wildlife or bird garden such as Musclewood, Ironwood, Running Serviceberry, Blackhaw Viburnum, Spikenard, Wild Strawberry, Sky Blue Aster, Compass Plant, American Bittersweet, or Spotted Joe-Pye Weed.

Common Wood Sedge is a native Wisconsin perennial grass, usually found growing in upland woods, mixed woodlands, degraded prairies, thickets, and sava…
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Written by Beth DeLain