Species Spotlight – Carex appalachica (Appalachian sedge)
Carex appalachica (Appalachian sedge) is a somewhat rare native sedge species that often grows in large stands where it is present. It’s long-flowing blades create a soft, if unkempt, appearance in the landscape. Although widely considered an alternative to Carex pensylvanica when it is in short supply, Carex appalachica’s habit and preferred growing conditions are quite different.
Mostly found in part shade and northern-facing slopes. Soils should be deep, well-drained and mesic, but never dry. Easy to grow in the average garden or landscape if kept away from heavy, wet soils.
Browse the pictures and read the descriptions below. Note the markedly different forms and textures from different parts of the country. Not all Carex appalachica are the same.
ArcheWild grows ecotpyed Carex appalachica seed, plugs, and finished material in quarts and gallons. Most commercial nurseries are now using Carex appalachica tissue culture starts of unknown provenance. If you need real open-pollinated, local-ecotype (OPLE©) Carex appalachica for restoration or landscaping purposes, ArcheWild could be your only source. ArcheWild plants will set viable, genetically-diverse seed.
Carex appalachica pictures
Picture 1 depicts both Carex appalachica and Carex pensylvanica growing side by side; the former is in the foreground. Note the dramatic difference in character. The Carex appalachica is growing on a hummock that is about 3-6″ higher than Carex pensylvanica, a testament to its need for drier conditions. Carex appalachica and Carex pensylvanica can, when soil conditions are just right, form a lush, weed-free native lawn effect in light woodland settings. This picture is from EcoRegion 051c, Glacial Lake Wisconsin Sand Plain, of the North Central Hardwood Forests in Wisconsin.
Picture 2 shows the soil type and structure of the conditions in Picture 1. A deep, moist bed of alluvial sand with organic matter (dead leaves) mixed into the top 3-4″. Coarse, well-drained, and moist but never wet.
Picture 3, 4, 5 show Carex appalachica growing where it is most often observed, on north-facing slopes in forest settings.
Picture 3 is from EcoRegion 070c, the Allegheny Plateau, north of Pittsburgh.
Picture 4 is from EcoRegion 069a, Forested Hills and Mountains of the Central Applachians, in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.
Picture 5 is from EcoRegion 066d, the Southern Crystalline Ridges and Mountains of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, shown growing with its common associates.
Picture 6 depicts the known range of Carex appalachica, as derived from herbarium records.
Supply of OPLE© Carex appalachica is limited so it is best to order and reserve your plants a year in advance of your planting date.