Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Pendulous Sedge

This beautiful grass-like plant is common around Byfield, growing in some profusion along the stream beside the village playing fields and elsewhere. It is frequent throughout Northamptonshire even though it was not recorded from this western part of the county in Gill Gent's " book, "The Flora of Northamptonshire & the Soke of Peterborough", published in 1995. The latest flora, published earlier this year, shows a far wider distribution and this is almost certainly this is due to garden escapes, the plant being much appreciated by gardeners who value it for its graceful growth; certainly the Latin name Carex pendula is very appropriate.
Carex pendula beside a stream.
Byfield 11 June, 2013

Grass-like it may be, but the stems of sedges have a triangular cross-section, easily detected if a stem is rolled between the thumb and forefinger, whereas the stems of grasses are round or oval. Sedges belong to the Papyrus family, Cyperaceae.

Gardeners who do introduce it to a pond- or stream-side may come to regret their action as the plant can become very invasive, seeding prolifically in any damp ground - as I know to my cost. Fortunately the plants are easily recognisable even when small and can be tweaked out with little effort. Druce ("Flora of Northamptonshire", 1930) curiously describes it as "septal", an obsolescent word meaning "of hedgerows"; I have never found Pendulous Sedge in, or even near, a hedgerow!
Pendulous Sedge again, at the same site,
showing its prolific growth.

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