Routinely overlooked by some, the sedges (Cyperaceae family) are a ubiquitous and, ecologically, highly important component of the Pinelands flora.

In fact, in Witmer Stone’s list of about 177 ”Characteristic Pine Barrens” plants, sedges hold first place, with about thirty species. (The Aster family comes in second, with about twenty species.) World-wide, the family is one of the largest, with about 92 genera and 4450 species.

Sedges superficially resemble grasses or rushes, but they can usually be distinguished by their triangular flower stalks. Also, their leaves are typically arranged in three ranks (grasses have alternate leaves forming two ranks). While sedges may be found growing in all kinds of situations, many are associated with wetlands or with poor soils.

Pennsylvania Sedge

Carex pensylvanica

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Swaying Rush

Schoenoplectus subterminalis

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