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Carex barbarae

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About Valley Sedge (Carex barbarae) Carex barbarae is a species in the Cyperaceae (Sedge) family known by the common names Valley Sedge and Santa Barbara Sedge. Despite its common name it is not limited to the Santa Barbara area and is native to a large part of California and Oregon, where it grows in wet and seasonally wet habitat, such as meadows and riverbanks. This sedge produces angled, hairless stems up to one meter tall or slightly taller. The tough leaves are narrow with shredding, red-spotted or purple basal sheaths. The flower cluster produces erect and drooping spikes up to about 8 centimeters long with an associated long leaf which exceeds the length of the spikes. The fruits are covered in a sac called a perigynium which is light to dark brown and sometimes red-spotted, leathery and tough, and sometimes with a toothed, hairy tip. The plant rarely matures into a fruiting stage, however, with most individuals remaining sterile. Parts of this sedge were used in basketry and as sewing fiber by California Native American groups such as the Maidu and Pomo. Use caution in deciding where to use this plant because it can be an aggressive spreader wherever there is moisture. Its tendency to spread can be controlled by planting in a container. It is useful on the margin of a pond or in a bioswale.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1.6 - 3.3 ft (0.49 - 1 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)



Growth Rate


Flower Color
Cream, Purple, Red

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Seasonally wet places

Part Shade

Elevation ?
-253' - 9055'

Annual Precip. ?
9.7" - 69.1"

Summer Precip. ?
0.16" - 3.17"

Coldest Month ?
21.2° F - 55.7° F

Hottest Month ?
52.3° F - 80.3° F

Humidity ?
0.01 vpd - 27.76 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil PH
5.5 - 8.0


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 15° F

Sunset Zones ?
4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8*, 9*, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Use with other wetland and bog plants such as Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica), Brodiaea sp., Flatsedge (Cyperus sp.), Spikerush (Eleocharis sp.), Stream Orchid (Epipactis gigantea), Coast Gumweed (Grindelia stricta), Juncus sp., Iris sp., Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis or guttatus), Hedge Nettle (Stachys sp.), Vervain (Verbena lasiostachys), and Willow (Salix sp.)

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Low, Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
1/week, Keep moist
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Common uses
Bogs and Ponds, Deer Resistant

Other Names
Common Names
Santa Barbara 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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