Monday, May 9, 2016

Wildflowers of 2016 - #29

Last Monday (May 1st), I added two species to my Wildflowers of 2016 list.  I did find a third species on that day, but hesitated to add it to the list.

Why was I hesitant?  It has to do with the genus of plants.  The third plant I found that day was a sedge or Carex species.  Michiganflora list 184 Carx species found in the state of Michigan and they are notoriously difficult to identify.  However, I was able to narrow the list of possibles down significantly by looking at habitat.  There are 103 obligate wetland or facultative wetland species of sedge found in Michigan; obligate wetland species are almost always found in wetlands and facultative wetland species are usually found there.   This left only 81 likely possibilities.

After eliminating species that are found only in a few locations, as well as those species that looked completely wrong, I was able to come away with an identification.

Wildflowers of 2016 - #29 Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica)

Clumps of Pennsylvania Sedge surrounded by spring ephemerals

Species number twenty-nine is Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica).  This species is found throughout the state of Michigan and eastern North America.  Pennsylvania Sedge is a clump forming species that grows between 6 and 15 inches tall.  It prefers dry to moist upland soils and is commonly associated with oak forests.  It is one of the earliest-blooming sedge species.

Pennsylvania Sedge - male (upper) and female (lower) flowers are on the same stalk

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