Slough Sedge (Carex obnupta). One of 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Slough Sedge

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Carex obnupta

Slough Sedge is an easy-to-grow, evergreen sedge that functions well in many landscape applications from bioswales to hedgerows, and looks great all year long. It grows vigorously in wet soils and, over time, creates dense areas of tufted vegetation that sport drooping black inflorescence and seed heads, which are adored by birds from spring to fall.

  • Plant type/canopy layer: evergreen perennial sedge, herb/ground layer
  • Size at maturity: 2' tall, 5' wide
  • Light requirements: full sun, part sun/part shade
  • Moisture requirements: moist to wet soil
  • Bloom time: n/a
  • Growth rate/ease: fast growing, easy to grow, spreads vigorously
  • Wildlife support: caterpillar host plant/larval food source, the seeds are an excellent food source for many bird species including coots, ducks, marsh birds, shorebirds, upland game birds, and songbirds from April - Sept. 
  • Native habitat/range: Common in marshes, wet meadows, streamsides, pond margins, low spots in riparian woodlands, coastal dunes, brackish upper reaches of salt marshes and road ditches up to 1300 meters in much of western North America from British Columbia to California. Portland Plant List - yes. 
  • Special features & uses: drought tolerant, erosion control and bank stabilization in wet/moist areas, groundcover, low layer of a hedgerow, weaving and basketry, 

Gardening with Slough Sedge: Sough Sedge is ideal for soggy areas and rain gardens where, with enough water, it can thrive in most any light condition. It stays green all summer long and is drought tolerant - in fact, drought conditions can help keep this aggressive plant in check in smaller urban gardens. Its spreading nature can give it a bit of a bad rap, but it redeems itself ten-fold by its extraordinary ecological function. Slough sedge stabilizes banks, controls erosion, maintains healthy hydrologic function in waterways, and provides sediment retention and nutrient uptake. In this way, it maintains and improves water quality and creates nutrient-rich habitat for aquatic organisms, fish, waterfowl, and predators such as otters, bald eagles, herons, and raccoons to feed (EMSWCD).

Photo Credit: Tracy Cozine