Chapter 3. Common Native Grasses of the Northern Midwest

3.7 Pennsylvania sedge

Pennsylvania sedge growing in the shade.
Pennsylvania sedge growing in the shade.

Carex pensylvanica

Cool season; Perennial

Characteristics: 6–12”; mound; foliage yellow-green to forest green; flowers brown to yellow

Growing Conditions: average to dry soils; full sun to heavy shade; drought tolerant; hardy zones 3–8

This fine-textured sedge grows in a variety of sites, including dry shade. It can be used as a ground cover in landscaping situations, on steep slopes, and on other tough sites.

Currently, no nativars are available, but the species is widely available at garden centers.

While no records of Lepidoptera feeding or using Pennsylvania sedge were found in a search of the literature, there are records of Lepidoptera using sun sedge (Carex inops subsp. heliophila), which is closely related. Sun sedge occurs in dry prairie, whereas Pennsylvania sedge occurs in wooded areas. Lepidoptera that use sun sedge are Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae), Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris), Assiniboia skipper (Hesperia assiniboia), and Garita skipperling (Oarisma garita).


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Gardening with Native Grasses in Cold Climates by Diane M. Narem and Mary Hockenberry Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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