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Carex emoryi, the Riverbank tussock sedge or Emory's sedge, is a very attractive and functional native plant for stormwater applications. It thrives with alternating cycles of wet and dry, making it ideal for vegetated swales and infiltration basins. Native to much of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, C. emoryi was first separated from similar species of Carex by botanists in the early part of the 20th century. Bluish green shoots appear in late March in Zone 6, rapidly elongating to attractive, bright green foliage that reaches 24 to 30 inches by late May. An inconspicuous inflorescence appears in mid-May at the same height as the leaves.
The foliage remains upright and attractive throughout the growing season unless battered by severe storms or deep floodwater . if it is laid down by extreme weather, new shoots rapidly produce fresh foliage from the base of the plant. The foliage turns shades of yellow in October, fading to brown in November. it is generally crushed by the first significant snowfall. Riverbank tussock sedge is adaptable to a variety of soil and moisture conditions. As the common name implies, its natural habitat consists of the banks of rivers and streams. It also occurs on sand and gravel bars in streams. These habitats are invariable flooded during high water events, but become quite dry during periods of low water.
C. emoryi spreads rather aggressively by rhizomes. In good conditions, a 2 inch plug installed in early spring can be expected to form a 1-foot-diameter clump by the end of the first growing season. This habit makes it ideal for vegetated swale or streambank stabilization projects. Finally, C. emoryi may be utilized as a border along retention ponds, providing an attractive solution for erosion prevention and maintenance reduction along shorelines.
- Tungesvick K., (2009, March). Field Notes: Carex emoryi. American Nurseryman,pg 78