Description & Overview

Found throughout Wisconsin, this sedge is native to moist to wet woodlands, wet ditches, wetlands, swamps, and marshes. As a cool-season grower, you’ll find green foliage emerging from the ground in late April, forming a mounded tuft of dark green, grass-like foliage. By mid-late Spring, culms rise up and sport a distinctive inflorescence that matures to brown as mid-summer rolls around. Fox Sedge is also known as Brown Fox Sedge.

Core Characteristics

Category: Grasses

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 1-3 feet

Mature Spread: 2+ feet

Growth Rate: Fast

Growth Form: Upright, tufts, spreading, mounded

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Moist to wet, average pH

Flower: Green, 5" inflorescence

Bloom Period: May – June

Foliage: Green

Fall Color: Yellow

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Mature to brown, late summer

Suggested Uses

Fox Sedge prefers moist to wet conditions, and for this reason, would make an excellent choice for a wetland restoration project. It is a host plant for a variety of insects, provides coverage for waterfowl, and tolerates seasonal water fluctuations well.

This sedge spreads rapidly by rhizomes and readily reseeds, making this an effective groundcover. It can be aggressive and is best used where constant removal is not an issue.

Depending on how large your rain garden, pond, or water feature area is, this sedge could add a nice groundcover for your area. While likely too aggressive for smaller sites, it will do well around a pond or in a large water retention area.

We don’t recommend Fox Sedge for urban situations because of its advantageous nature. In the right location, this plant will rapidly spread and self-seed which may be too overwhelming for the typical residential landowner. While this sedge does short periods of drought, it’s best to give this sedge plenty of room, and moisture, to spread into its natural form.

Found throughout Wisconsin, this sedge is native to moist to wet woodlands, wet ditches, wetlands, swamps, and marshes. As a cool-season grower, you'l…

Wildlife Value

Fox Sedge is a very good food source for waterfowl and wetland birds, such as Sora, Virginia Rails, Mallards, Trumpeter Swans, Sandpipers, American Coots, Redheads, Wilson’s Snipes, Long-billed Dowitcher, Canada Geese, Sedge Wrens, American Black Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and more.

As this sedge spreads to form colonies, it creates excellent nesting habitat for the birds mentioned above.

Sedge Grasshoppers (Stethophyma spp.), Common Meadow Katydids (Orchelimum vulgare), billbug weevils, multiple aphid species, leafhoppers (Cosmotettix spp.), and plant bugs will feed on the foliage.

Based on the Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) information, it’s probable that the following Lepidoptera use Fox Sedge as their host plant: Mulberry Moth (Poanes massasoit), Duke’s Skipper (Euphyes dukesi), Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator), American Ear Moths (Amphipoea americana), Eyed Brown (Satyrodes eurydice), Appalachian Skipper (Satyrodes appalachia), Dion Skipper (Euphyes dion), Two-spotted Skipper (Euphyes bimacula), Henry’s marsh Moth (Simyra insularis), Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris), Reniform Celaena Moth (Helotropha reniformis), Virginia Ctenucha Moth (Ctenucha virginica), Borered Apamea Moth (Apamea sordens finitima), Jutta Arctic Moth(Oeneis jutta), and Tufted Sedge Moth (Hypocoena inquinata).

Maintenance Tips

Because this species actively grows when it’s cooler, leave the foliage up until early spring. Not only will this provide food for bird species, but it provides cover for animals and winter interest.

Provide supplemental watering during drought (applicable when the plant isn’t planted in standing water).

Found throughout Wisconsin, this sedge is native to moist to wet woodlands, wet ditches, wetlands, swamps, and marshes. As a cool-season grower, you'l…

Pests/Problems

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

Fox Sedge has no serious insect or disease issues.

Leaf Lore

The genus name Carex is Latin for “cutter” in reference to the sharp leaves and edges of the stems. The common name Fox Sedge is due to the inflorescence maturing to brown and resembling a fox’s tail. Similarly, the species epithet vulpinoidea means ‘resembling or relating to a fox’.

There is only one recorded use by Indigenous people at this time. The Iroquois made a compound decoction of the roots and used it as ‘rooster fighting medicine’

Sedges overall, have been used for a variety of purposes, some of those include using the roots for basketry or for a dye, for use in ceremonial dances, for shaving, as an emetic, to prevent snakebites, and to make into insoles for moccasins.

There are about 4,000 species in the sedge family, Cyperaceae, and the genus, Carex, holds about 2,000 of those species.

Companion Plants

Intermingle Fox Sedge with other plants that enjoy similar conditions such as Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea), Dense Blazingstar (Liatris spicata), Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Meadow Anemone (Anemone canadensis), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Harlequin Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor), Riddell’s Goldenrod (Solidago riddellii), Spotted Jewel-weed (Impatiens capensis), Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris), Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), Steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa), Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), Black Willow (Salix nigra), Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor), Marsh Bluegrass (Poa palustris), and Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris).

Found throughout Wisconsin, this sedge is native to moist to wet woodlands, wet ditches, wetlands, swamps, and marshes. As a cool-season grower, you'l…
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Written by Beth DeLain