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TRUE SEDGES


SPIKES ALL ALIKE

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Most of the sedges at FF/NW are in the genus Carex whose female flowers are enclosed within a sac-like structure unique to this genus, the perigynium.  Flowers are unisexual, but male and female flowers are usually present on the same plant. Flower clusters are arranged in spikes which may be all male like the reddish brown spike at the top of the plant in photo D of Emory's Sedge (Carex emoryii), all female like the white spikes below it, or mixed like that in photo A of Davis' Sedge (Carex davisii).  Male flowers have 3 stamens and a scale extending upward from the base of each flower.  The stamens mature and drop rather quickly leaving only the scales in more mature plants as in the above photo of Davis' Sedge.  Female flowers have a single ovary with a style and 2 or 3 stigmas surrounded by the unique sac-like perigynium as in Gray Wood Sedge (Carex grisia), photo D.  The massed stigmas of multiple flowers may be quite showy as in Emory's Sedge (Carex emoryii), photo D.  The perigynium has the following external features that are often used for identification.  The body which may be flat or rounded has, in most cases, an extension of variable length known as the beak, which is often toothed at its tip as in photo H, Short-beaked Sedge (Carex brevior) or photo D, Smoothcone Sedge (Carex laeviconica).  There is an opening at the tip of the beak from which the stigmas protrude as shown in photo F, Hitchcock's Sedge (Carex hitchcockiana) and photo D, Mead's Sedge (Carex meadii).  A female scale arises at the base of each perigynium extending upward a variable distance alongside it.  It is often greenish as in Hitchcock's Sedge or may contain variable amounts of red as in Mead's Sedge.  The fruit falls at maturity still enclosed in the perigynium.




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