Bearded Sedge – Carex comosa is a water-loving plant that grows in large, almost bushy clumps in moist areas, but most likely directly in standing or flowing water. Bearded Sedge has long grass-like stems that grow up to four feet in length. Bearded Sedge grows naturally in most of the U.S. but is not found in every state. The stems display an extended, slender, flowing appearance. It's like a bigger, thicker version of a spider plant. The average width of the blades is 3/4-inch. These green, grassy stems are smooth and hairless.
The scientific name for bearded sedge is Carex comosa. It’s helpful to know this because this plant may often be confused with its close cousin, bearded flatsedge (Cyperus squarrosus). Most landscapers would be far more interested in bearded sedge than the flatsedge variety. It is also sometimes confused with Carex pseudocyperus, commonly known as cyperus sedge.
Bearded sedge takes its name mostly from the seed which appears “bearded” making it easy to identify. It has somewhat large flower clusters shaped like a common bottle brush. It also has two out curved “teeth” that flow over the membrane sac enclosing the flower.
This plant flowers in May and the blossoms can persist until July.
Because bearded sedge loves water, swamps, streams, fens and other wetlands, this plant tends to be absent in states with naturally dry-desert climates, such as Arizona, New Mexico, and others. Montana and North Dakota are northern states where bearded sedge is not found.
It is not uncommon to find a bearded sedge bunch growing in the middle of a stream. It’s a plant that will tolerate even deeper water. Landscapers can make use of the plant as structure along areas bordering water, or directly in water ponds or other areas where water is part of the design scheme.
Bearded sedge will grow rapidly after planting in May and will be thick and bushy by mid-summer.