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Native alternative(s) for Carex pensylvanica:
Carex glaucescens Carex glaucescens
Carex grayi Gray’s Sedge
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Viola sororia Viola papilionacea
Carex grayi Gray’s Sedge
Carex glaucescens Carex glaucescens

Carex pensylvanica

Phonetic Spelling
KAIR-eks pen-sill-VAN-ee-ka
Description

Pennsylvania sedge is sedge in the Carex family native to thickets and dry woodland areas in North America.  It is commonly found near oak trees, hence one of its common names "oak sedge".  It grows in loose colonies and has a creeping habit with its reddish-brown roots.

It tolerates heavy shade and wet soils, though its ideal location is dry to moist shade.  This plant is a good lawn substitute for shady areas but will not tolerate heavy foot traffic.  It forms an ideal turf alternative in dry shade areas, needing mowing only once or twice a season to maintain a 2" height. It also makes a great underplanting for taller perennials.  It is semi-evergreen, dying back under very cold temperatures.  Identification of individual sedge (Carex) species can be difficult.  

While it is native to NC, it tends to perform best in cooler climates.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Smut, rust, and leaf spot are occasional problems along with aphids, Anthracnose, and Fungus gnat larvae. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Entryway Garden, Cabarrus County Extension Office
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#rain garden#perennials#semi-evergreen#wildlife plants#shade garden#lawn alternative#erosion control#cpp#NC native#native garden#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#native sedge#wet soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#HS302#pollinator garden#rushes#audubon#heavy shade tolerant#various satyr butterfly#dry shade#lawn alternative shade
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#rain garden#perennials#semi-evergreen#wildlife plants#shade garden#lawn alternative#erosion control#cpp#NC native#native garden#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#native sedge#wet soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#HS302#pollinator garden#rushes#audubon#heavy shade tolerant#various satyr butterfly#dry shade#lawn alternative shade
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carex
    Species:
    pensylvanica
    Family:
    Cyperaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & E. Canada to N. Central & E. U.S.A
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant supports various Satyr larvae.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 1 in. - 0 ft. 8 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 1 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Spreading
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Fruit Description:
    Displays from May to June.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers bloom from April to May. Plants are monoecious, male flowers appear in spiklets above the female flowers. Inflorescences are at the tip of rough, triangular stems. Staminate scales are green with reddish-purple with white margins. Pistillate scales are dark brown to purple-black with green midribs and white margins.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Erosion
    Heavy Shade
    Insect Pests
    Wet Soil