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Recognizing Asiatic Sand Sedge (Carex kobomugi)

wpe9.jpg (12248 bytes)Many people who hear about this research become concerned that they might have this species on their property.  While we REALLY want to hear from you if you do have this plant on your land, there are many native species of Carex  and its close relatives that look similar to Asiatic sand sedge.  So... what should you look for to tell whether or not the plant you are looking at is Carex kobomugi  ?

wpe4.jpg (9092 bytes)While there are reports of this species growing in an inland quarry near Boston, Asiatic Sand Sedge is primarily found near the seashore, and usually grows in coastal primary (nearest the ocean) and secondary dunes, since this sedge has a high tolerance for salt spray and heavy winds. Typically it grows to about a foot tall in large tightly packed beds.  Its usual color is bright to yellowish green, with yellow and brown leaves being more common in the spring and fall.

The easiest way to recognize this species is to rub your fingers along the edge of its leaves.  Carex kobomugi  's leaves are distinguished by small ridges along their edges, which makes them wpe5.jpg (9296 bytes)wpe8.jpg (10129 bytes)feel like the serrations on a good steak-knife. The relatively stiff, grass-like leaves curl over the plant giving it a low profile. The plant forms male (right with pollen strands visible) and female (left, dropping a seed ) flowers, with the female flower forming a seed head that's characterized by a triangular set of spikes attached to a long stem with distinctive brown scales.

Carex kobomugi  forms spiky-tipped rhizomes which spread out quickly from the plant.  It also builds long roots that can grow several feet into the sand.

For more information, or to report suspected stands of this species, please contact Dr. Louise Wootton (732 987 2349 or email me at

Click here to learn more about the research being done on Carex kobomgi  at Georgian Court University.

Learn more about the Biology Department at Georgian Court University

Author: Louise Wootton.  Last updated October 7, 2005

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