Carex sylvatica

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Carex sylvatica
Carex sylvatica.jpg
Scientific classification
C. sylvatica
Binomial name
Carex sylvatica

Carex sylvatica is a species of sedge found in deciduous woodlands across Europe. It typically reaches 60 cm (24 in) tall, and has an inflorescence made up of 3–5 pendent female spikes and a single male spike. It is also used as a garden plant, and has been introduced to North America and New Zealand.


Carex sylvatica "resembles a small C. pendula",[2] growing to around 15–60 centimetres (6–24 in) tall, or up to 150 cm (5 ft) in exceptional cases.[1] Its rhizomes are very short, giving the plant a densely cespitose (tufted) form.[1][3] The leaves are 5–60 cm (2.0–23.6 in) long, 3–7 mm (0.12–0.28 in) wide[1] and 1.0–1.3 mm (0.04–0.05 in) thick,[3] with 17–31 parallel veins. The leaves have a slight keel, or are folded gently into an M-shape in cross-section.[1]

The top half or third of the stem bears the inflorescence, typically comprising 3–5 female spikes and a single apical male spike,[1] which may include a few female flowers at its base.[3] The female spikes are each 2.0–6.5 cm (0.8–2.6 in) long, and are held dangling on long, rough peduncles, arising from within a long leaf-sheath.[1] The male spike is much thinner, and is 1–4 cm (0.4–1.6 in) long.[1]

Distribution and ecology[edit]

Carex sylvatica is found across Europe, and into parts of Asia, as far east as Iran.[4] It has also been introduced to North America, where it occurs in Ontario, New York and North Carolina, and to New Zealand,[3] where it was first recorded in 1969.[5]

In its native range, C. sylvatica lives in deciduous woodlands on heavy soils; it is sometimes found in unwooded areas, but usually only as a relic of ancient woodland.[1] In North America, it is generally found in disturbed areas within deciduous woodland.[3]


Carex sylvatica was first described by the English botanist William Hudson in his 1762 work Flora Anglica.[6] Hybrids have been reported between C. sylvatica and C. strigosa (in France) and between C. sylvatica and C. hirta (in Austria).[3] Its English common name is "wood-sedge",[1] or, in North America, "European woodland sedge".[3]


Carex sylvatica can be used in gardens as ground cover under trees or shrubs.[2] Carl Linnaeus recorded that the Sami people used the plant as an insulating wadding.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j A. C. Jermy; D. A. Simpson; M. J. Y. Foley; M. S. Porter (2007). "Carex sylvatica Huds.". Sedges of the British Isles. BSBI Handbook No. 1 (3rd ed.). Botanical Society of the British Isles. pp. 334–336. ISBN 978-0-901158-35-2.
  2. ^ a b Michael King; Piet Oudolf (1998). Gardening with Grasses. Frances Lincoln. p. 124. ISBN 9780711212022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Joy Mastrogiuseppe; Paul E. Rothrock; A. C. Dibble; A. A. Reznicek (2002). "Carex sylvatica Hudson, Fl. Angl. 353. 1762". Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 23. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-515207-4.
  4. ^ "Carex sylvatica". eMonocot. Archived from the original on July 6, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  5. ^ "Carex sylvatica". Flora. New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  6. ^ William Hudson (1762). "Carex". Flora Anglica (in Latin). pp. 346–354.
  7. ^ James Sowerby (1802). English botany. 14. London: J. Davis.

External links[edit]

  • Marek Nowicki, Radosław Walkowiak, Carex sylvatica, Pieniny National Park (Slovakia), CTC, 2019
  • Media related to Carex sylvatica at Wikimedia Commons