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Carex aquatilis
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Water Sedge
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Carex aquatilis

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About Water Sedge (Carex aquatilis) Carex aquatilis is a species of sedge known by the common names water sedge and leafy tussock sedge. It has a circumboreal distribution, occurring throughout the northern reaches of the Northern Hemisphere. It grows in many types of mountainous and Arctic habitat, including temperate coniferous forest, alpine meadows, tundra, and wetlands. There are several varieties of this species, and it is somewhat variable in appearance. It produces triangular stems reaching heights between 20 centimeters and 1.5 meters, and generally does not form clumps as some other sedges do. It grows from a dense rhizome network which produces a mat of fine roots thick enough to form sod, and includes aerenchyma to allow the plant to survive in low-oxygen substrates like heavy mud. The flower cluster bears a number of spikes with one leaflike leaf at the base which is longer than the flower cluster itself. The fruits are glossy achenes, and although the plant occasionally reproduces by seed, most of the time it reproduces vegetatively, spreading via its rhizome. In fact, in any given year, most shoots produce no flowers. This perennial plant lives up to 10 years or more, can form peat as its rhizome system decomposes, and is sometimes used to revegetate areas where peat has been harvested.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
0.7 - 4.9 ft (0.21 - 1.5 m)


Growth Rate

Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Wet places

Part Shade

Elevation ?
7' - 10979'

Annual Precip. ?
10.3" - 152.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.21" - 5.84"

Coldest Month ?
20.2° F - 49.5° F

Hottest Month ?
44.5° F - 74.7° F

Humidity ?
0.32 vpd - 23.56 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers loamy or clay soils. Grows poorly in sandy soils.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Common Names
Leafy Tussock Sedge

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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