4. Sedges

Sedges (Cyperaceae) are an overlooked but crucial component of the New England flora, and you can find several species growing in the Curtis Woodland. Sedges are distinct from grasses, and they flower and fruit in the spring while grasses usually bloom in late summer or fall. This means that seed eating birds— ducks, turkeys, grouse, sparrows, etc— have a food source earlier in the growing season. Sedges are a highly popular host plant for caterpillars; Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica) alone can support 36 different species of butterflies and moths. Birds use them for nesting material, small animals live and hide in them, and they stabilize soils with no requirement for fertilizers or irrigation when planted in their ideal location. There’s a sedge for every moisture, lighting, and mowing condition, and they make a wonderful alternative lawn (see our Carex lawn in the Idea Garden).