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San Diego Sedge
Carex spissa

About San Diego Sedge (Carex spissa) A species of sedge known by the common name San Diego sedge. It is native to the southwestern United States and far northern Mexico, where it grows in wet places, sometimes on serpentine soils. This sedge looks somewhat like a cattail. It produces angled stems easily exceeding a meter in height surrounded by leathery grey-green to reddish-green leaves (if drought stressed) up to about 1.2 meters long. The flower cluster is up to 80 centimeters long, with many long reddish brown flower spikes, each holding up to 300 developing fruits.

This is a easy and fast growing plant for full sun and heavy, moist soils. In even part shade, it tends to get weedy and unattractive. Needs plenty of water, so best to grow this in a sunny spot along a creek, seep or other naturally moist area, or in a regularly irrigated area.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
2 - 4 ft (0.6 - 1.2 m)

Max. Width
2 - 4 ft (0.6 - 1.2 m)



Growth Rate


The very long, slender leaves are minutely toothed and can cause lacerations if rubbed in the wrong direction. It is a monocot with parallel venation and tough fibers.

Flower Color
Brown, Green, Yellow

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Wet places


Elevation ?
10' - 5665'

Annual Precip. ?
10.9" - 35.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.24" - 1.47"

Coldest Month ?
43.8° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
62.6° F - 78.4° F

Humidity ?
0.95 vpd - 24.70 vpd

Soil Description
It is said to have a strong affinity to serpentine soils but is also found in other soil types

Soil Texture
Clay, Sandy Clay, Silt, Silty Clay

Soil PH
5.0 - 7.5

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Serpentine Soil


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -10 - 0° F

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

Companion Plants
Seep Monkeyflower, Cardinal Monkeyflower, Yerba Mansa, Hedge Nettle, and Juncus spp.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

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

Seldom Used

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

Common uses
Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Bailey 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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