Common Graminoid Species of the Northwest Forest






Terminology | Pictorial

Carex vaginata
Sheathed Sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)

Sheathed Sedge Description

General - stems single or few together from long, slender creeping rhizomes, 10 - 60 cm tall, smooth, irregularly bent.

Leaves - soft, flat, hairless, 2 - 4 mm wide, mostly at stem base.

Flower Cluster - end spike male, 1 - 2 cm long, long-stalked; 2 - 3 female side spikes (sometimes with male flowers at tip), 1 - 2.5 cm at base of female spikes have conspicuous sheaths, 1 - 2 cm long, enlarged upwards, with flat blade, shorter than spike.

Perigynia - yellowish-green to light brown, elliptic to elliptic-egg-shaped, 3 - 5 mm long, faintly veined, smooth, beak about 1 mm long; scales purplish brown, shorter than perigynia; 3 stigmas.


Bogs and wet coniferous woods; often with Sphagnum moss; common and widespread across Northwestern Ontario's boreal forest, north to low Arctic; circumpolar.


This common sedge is said to have moderate value as winter forage for wildlife. The name vaginata is derived from the Latin vagina, 'a sheath', and refers to the conspicuous 1 - 2 cm-long sheaths formed by the leafy bracts immediately below the spikes.

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