Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Sedges, Sedges, Sedges
Take a few seconds to look at all the different species of sedges in this short slide show. Depending upon who you "hang" with, you probably either think sedges are wildly awesome or just downright obscure. We botanists love sedges- Ohio has around 160 species of Carex alone, and knowing what type of sedges are calling a particular place home can tell you much about its ecological significance.
Sedges don't have traditional flower parts- The genus Carex, which most of these species belong to, instead have separate male and female flowers. The female flowers are composed of a sack like structure called a perigynia. Towards the top of this sack is a hole through which pollen can enter. Often, the plant's stigmas will be sticking out from the perigynia, making it easier to grab pollen. Male flowers are often much smaller and less inflated. Some sedges have male flowers and female flowers in the same inflorescence, while others are on different spikes. Look for that in these images.
Yes, they do look alike, but by taking a look at the shape of the peryiginia, you usually tell the species. Often you have to do this with a 10x or greater handlens, but still, many sedges can be readily learned in the field, if you work at it. I've been at it for about 5 years now.
Enjoy these sedges! Mostly carex, one Scirpus (old name) and one federally endangered plant thrown in for good measure, the running buffalo clover.
Happy sedge watching,