Family: Cyperaceae (Sedge) Family
Scientific Name: Carex vulpinoidea
Native cool-season perennial sedge that grows up to 3 ft high. Grows in wet, moist meadows, marshes, lake shores, stream sides, and road sides.
Watch for: Dense clumps of sedges with a brown seed head that resembles a fox’s tail. Blooms May to July. Leaves are generally longer than the stem. Remember: “Sedges have edges” on the stem.
Other names: Brown Fox Sedge, Common Fox Sedge
History: Sedges have many uses to 1st Nations tribes across the US. In the Northwest, they’re used for a cleaning brush, lining pit-ovens, moccasins, and berry baskets. The Nez Perce use many sedge species for rope and twine (Nebraska). The Paiute use sedges to make spoons (California/ Nevada). Some sedge stems can be eaten raw (i.e. Big-leaf Sedge).
Tidbits: Fox Sedge is a wildlife superstar. Rails, grouse, ducks, and even song birds (several sparrows, snow buntings, cardinals, and redpolls) make well use of the flower. Beyond birds, moose, beaver, deer and muskrat also take advantage of it’s water-side cuisine. For many small birds and mammals, sedges also provide concealment from predators.
Gardens/ Cultivation: Fox Sedge does well in raingardens due to it’s clumping form, can survive long periods of flooding and has a high tolerance to water fluctuation. It’s often used in upper shoreline zones and stream banks for stabilization. It’s an excellent pioneer species in wetland restoration projects as well, being able to re-vegetate and area quickly after a disturbance. There are no cultivars for sedges.
Schmidt, Rusty and Shaw, Daniel. Plants for Stormwater Design. Minnesota Pollution
Control Agency, 2003.