Sedges are in the genus Carex, and the family Cyperaceae. They are grass-like plants which usually grow in wet areas, although some can be found in rather dry locations. They are similar to grasses in their form, in their reproductive organs, and in that they are wind-pollinated. They are also similar to rushes, which are another species of moisture-loving monocot. The easiest way to tell a sedge apart from other similar looking plants is to feel its stem. If the stem is triangular, the plant is probably a sedge. If it is round, fleshy, and pulpy, the plant may be a rush. Grasses are usually hollow and have leaves which clasp the stem. The poem usually used to remember this is:
Sedges have Edges
Rushes are Round
Grasses are hollow from the tip to the ground

Sedges are important components of wetlands. Like other wetland plants, they filter impurities from the water and stabilize erodable banks. Their seeds are important sources of food for many animals. However, some sedges can be harmful to agriculture.. one type known as nutsedge is considered one of the most noxious weeds in the world.

Sedge (?), n. [OE. segge, AS. secg; akin to LG. segge; -- probably named from its bladelike appearance, and akin to L. secare to cut, E. saw a cutting instrument; cf. Ir. seisg, W. hesg. Cf. Hassock, Saw the instrument.]

1. Bot.

Any plant of the genus Carex, perennial, endogenous herbs, often growing in dense tufts in marshy places. They have triangular jointless stems, a spiked inflorescence, and long grasslike leaves which are usually rough on the margins and midrib. There are several hundred species.

⇒ The name is sometimes given to any other plant of the order Cyperaceae, which includes Carex, Cyperus, Scirpus, and many other genera of rushlike plants.

2. Zool.

A flock of herons.

Sedge ken Zool., the clapper rail. See under 5th Rail. -- Sedge warbler Zool., a small European singing bird (Acrocephalus phragmitis). It often builds its nest among reeds; -- called also sedge bird, sedge wren, night warbler, and Scotch nightingale.


© Webster 1913.

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