Close-up of Dense Sedge (Carex densa). One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Field of young Dense Sedge (Carex densa). One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Field of mature Dense Sedge (Carex densa). One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Dense Sedge

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Carex densa

Though relatively uncommon in nurseries, Dense Sedge is a versatile, deer-resistant plant that forms compact evergreen mounds of foliage reaching 1-2 ft high. The ornamental tufts create year-round structure in seasonally wet/moist meadowscapes and open woodland gardens and provide excellent habitat for beneficial insects. While the elongated florets and chunky fruit, which appear from June - Aug are food for songbirds.    

  • Plant type/canopy layer: evergreen perennial sedge, herb/ground layer
  • Size at maturity: 18-28”' tall, 18-28”' wide
  • Light requirements: full sun, part sun/part shade
  • Moisture requirements: moist to wet soil, tolerates seasonal flooding and summer drought
  • Bloom time: florets and fruit apparent between June and August.
  • Growth rate/ease: fast growing, easy to grow
  • Wildlife support: caterpillar host plant/larval food source,  fruits provide food for songbirds, mounds are home to beneficial insects
  • Native habitat/range: found in wetlands, riparian zones, and moist meadows up to elevations of 4900 ft from northern CA to WA. Portland Plant List - yes. 
  • Special features & uses: rain gardens/bioswales, semi-evergreen, deer resistant, versatile, erosion control, bank stabilization

Gardening with Dense Sedge: Above all, this plant is versatile. It prefers full to partial sun and is an excellent choice for rain gardens or around ponds and streams where its dense rhizomes control erosion and stabilize banks. It tolerates somewhat heavier soils and summer drought, though infrequent summer water will keep it more evergreen. Each individual tuft is fast growing, but it does not spread vigorously, making it an excellent choice for small gardens where space is a premium. 

Photo Credits: Sevenoaks Native Nursery