Carex pedunculata; Longstalk sedge.
Carex pedunculata; Longstalk sedge.

Grasses and sedges are both vascular plant types that produce flowers and fruit, with much of the agricultural world invested in grass species such as wheat, hay, and barley (which are not found in the Cowling Arboretum). It’s often easy to think of all slender, green, ‘grasslike’ plants as grasses, but sedges and rushes are distinct from this group and have their own physical characteristics. The leaf stalks of sedges are triangular in shape, unlike the rounded, slightly hollow base of grass species. This triangular shape gives sedges a rough feeling when rolled between the fingers which is not felt when rolling grasses.  An easy way to remember the difference:

Sedges have Edges,
Rushes are Round,
Grasses are Hollow,
What have you found?

Alphabetical list by genus and species. Common name in bold.


Bromus kalmia; Arctic brome.
Bromus latiglumis
; Earlyleaf brome.
Bromus pubescens
; Canada brome.

Carex gravida; Heavy sedge.
˚Carex hitchcockiana
; Hitchcock’s sedge.
Carex pedunculata
; Longstalk sedge.
Carex rosea
; Rosy sedge.

Elymus hystrix; Bottlebrush grass.
Elymus virginicus
; Virginia wild rye.

Festuca subverticillata; Nodding fescue.

Juncus tenuis; Rush.