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Saturday, April 3, 2010
I'm guessing that I may be more excited about this post than many of you. In a previous lifetime, I was working really hard at becoming an expert in wetland plants. Most Carex (sedges) do like wetlands. But there are a few that prefer dry and sandy habitats. This is one of them, and it grows in my kingdom.
We won't do a whole botany lesson here, but one little thing to remember is that "sedges have edges." While they may look like grass if you just glance at them, one quick touch will inform you that the stems are triangular. OK... you've now just identified a sedge!
This little cutie is less than three inches tall! I don't know if it is the smallest sedge there is, but it's the smallest one I've ever seen. Those yellow things sticking out of the top are the anthers at the end of the stamens... think male parts.
Here I've pulled the leaves out of the way, and you can see that there is a different kind of flower down near the base of the plant. That is the staminate (female) flower. In this sedge male and female are on the same stalk, with the male parts above. Other sedges may have them on separate stalks, or with the female parts above. It's one of the characteristics keys use for identification.
It's not a hobby for the faint of heart. Some of the ID's can only be done with a microscope, or at least a good hand lens, and then only when the plant is blooming. I'll try to get some pix through the microscope of the achenes (seeds). Those can be interesting.
There are 169 Carex in Michigan. I wish I knew all of them. I'm working on it, but I haven't counted the ones I recognize. I think I'd be pretty embarrassed.