779 Carex pendulaCommon Names: drooping sedge, weeping sedge, pendulous sedge, great drooping sedge Family: Cyperaceae (sedge Family)
Drooping sedge is true to its name. The dark green leathery leaves are 3-4 ft (0.9-1.3 m) long, 0.5 in (1.3 cm) wide. They grow upward and then droop to form a weeping grassy mound 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) tall. Pencil-thin cylindrical flower spikes are 3-6 in (7.6-15.2 cm) long and droop vertically on long slender stems that arch gracefully over the mound of foliage. 'Moonraker' has creamy yellow variegated leaves that are at their best and brightest early in the season.
Drooping sedge is native to Europe, SW Asia and N Africa. It usually grows in damp, semi-shady woods on clayey soils. Drooping sedge is common in the British Isles, and sometimes uninvited in English gardens.
CultureLight: Drooping sedges does best in half to three-quarter shade. Moisture: Drooping sedge needs regular watering in upland soils. It does well in soils that stay moist, and thrives near the water on clayey soils. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 9. Propagation: Drooping sedge self-sows freely and the species is easily grown from seed. Propagate cultivars by dividing off pieces of rhizome.
Drooping sedge is well suited to the semi-shady, semi-moist naturalized garden where it can be expected to maintain itself with little care. The long, gracefully drooping flowering stems with their pendulous flower spikes create an interesting architectural element in the mixed border, especially near solid, blocky forms, or plants with large leaves. In recent years, professional landscapers have been using drooping sedge in small groups to make a counterpoint to large-leaved shade plants like hosta (Hosta spp.), canna lilies (Canna X generalis) and caladiums (Caladium bicolor). The flowering stems are attractive in dried floral arrangements.
The sedge family, Cyperaceae, includes more than 3,500 species growing on all continents except Antarctica. Most sedges are grass-like wetland plants, and only a few are cultivated as ornamentals. The ancient Egyptians made their papyrus from Cyperus papyrus. Chinese water chestnuts are tubers from the aquatic sedge Eleocharis tuberosa. Many of the world's worst weeds are sedges. (A weed is a plant growing where you don't want it.) The pervasive lawn weed, yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is well known to gardeners in temperate climates, and the tropical C. rotundus is said to be the world's most damaging agricultural weed. The genus Carex is the largest genus of sedges with some 1,500 species.
Even the experts have trouble identifying sedges to species, but we can at least tell a sedge from a grass (family Poaceae or Gramineae): The flowering stems of sedges are triangular in cross section, solid, and do not have nodes; the flowering stems of grasses are round, usually hollow, and have nodes.
Steve Christman 10/1/07