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This fine-textured sedge is a popular lawn substitute because it mimics the look of a traditional lawn, yet it thrives in dry, shady areas under trees where grass seldom survives. It grows with a clumping habit 6 to 10 inches tall and spreads 3 to 6 inches per year by reddish-brown rhizomes to form loose colonies. The ideal location for Pennsylvania sedge is average to dry, loose soils in dappled light or shade; however, it withstands soils that are occasionaly wet. The narrow foliage is semi-evergreen, dying back under very cold temps. Some gardeners mow it once or twice a year to maintain a two-inch height. Others appreciate its soft, flowing form that creates an undulating groundcover. To create large stands, divide plants in spring. While it doesn't tolerate heavy foot traffic, this adaptable grass is tolerant of deer, drought, wet soil, heavy shade, erosion, and insect pests.


Native habitats include thickets and dry woodland areas of eastern and central North America. It's often found near oak trees, leading to the common name "oak sedge." It makes a great underplanting for taller perennials. Use it as an edger and in rain, shade, and native gardens. it's a wonderful woodland plant or naturalizing plant.


Plant Characteristics:

Prefers light or full shade but adapts to full sun with additional moisture.


Grows 6-10" tall and wide.


Prefers average to dry, well-drained soils. Tolerates occasional very dry or wet conditions.


Erect, reddish-purple flowers grow about 10" tall above the foliage from April to May. Male flowers appear in spiklets above the female flowers. Inflorescences are at the tip of rough, triangular stems. Fruits display from May to June.


Green leaves are 1/8" wide. Fall color is tan. 


Wildlife Value:

Grasshoppers and several other species of adult insects feed on the plant, along with larvae of grass-miner moths. Various birds eat the seeds.

Sedge, Pennsylvania, Carex pensylvania

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