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Nature Notebook – Gray’s Sedge

Brandishing a seedhead that resembles a medieval weapon, Gray’s sedge is also known as mace sedge. First-time observers are usually hesitant to touch the spiky case but the braver ones discover the spikes are not as sharp as they appear.

These sedges, commonly found in our fen, are larval plants for Eyed Brown butterflies. As they fly about looking to lay eggs, the small brown butterflies can confuse those hoping to spot the endangered Mitchell’s satyr butterfly in the same area.

The spikelets contain specialized seeds that are inflated and, thus, able to float on water to a new growing area. Once established the plant will produce inconspicuous flowers that are wind-pollinated. Mace sedge also grows in woodland settings where its seeds are probably bounced along by wind.