Plant: Nodding sedge is up to 4½' (1.4 m) high, though specimens I have seen are a good deal shorter. Stems are triangular in cross section. They usually occur in tufts.
Flowers/seeds: Each stem supports two to five arched,
narrow, cylindrical drooping carpellate seed spikes up to 4" (10 cm) in length and
⅛-¼" (3-9 mm) in diameter.
Each stem also contains up to three staminate spikes.
Leaves: Leaves are U-shaped, grass-like, up to ⅜" (1 cm) wide.
Carex gynandra is easily confused with, and often found near, C. crinita.
“Easily confused” is something of an understatement: distinguishing these species requires a hand lens or scanner
and a penchant for obscure botanical terminology.
Scholarly papers have been written to provide evidence that they really are different.
6/16/2013 · Birch Point State Park, Owl’s Head, Maine ≈ 5 × 7" (13 × 17 cm)
Drooping narrow cylindrical heads up to 4½" (11 cm) long and ¼" (7 mm) in diameter. Carpellate scales are pale, truncate to notched at apex, with rough-textured awns. 1-3 staminate spikes per stem.
2-5 carpellate narrow, cylindrical spikes per stem. Each spike is ⅞-4" (2.4-10 cm) long, ⅛-¼" (3-9 mm) in diameter. Scales on the carpels are pale- to copper brown. There are 1-3 staminate spikes per stem.
M or U-shaped in cross-section, ⅛-⅜" (4-10 mm) wide.
⅛-⅜" (4-10 mm) wide, U-shaped.
Triangular stem cross-section. Basal leaf sheaths are smooth.
Rough-textured, with a triangular cross-section. Basal leaf sheaths are rough.
Perigynia are spreading, slightly inflated obovoid(widest above the middle and truncate), ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-4 mm) long.
Perigynia are oval-shaped, tapering to a small beak.
Bottomland prairies, moist upland prairies, margins of bodies of water, spring branches, fens.
Marshes, wet forests, swamps, seeps, and roadside ditches. Perhaps a little more weedy and abundant in acidic soils than C. crinita.
Like most Carex, stems are triangular in cross section. This one is rather squashed from cutting.
Carpellate spikes (left) are the most prominent. Staminate spikes (right) are smaller and may not persist for as long.
The carpellate spike consists of pistillate scales, (left), with awns that have notched tips; and perigynia(right). Each perigynium houses a developing achene (seed). This plant was found in the fall, but in the spring, tiny pistallate (female) flowers emerge, like sinuous filaments, from the beak of perigynium.
Representative perigynia, achenes, and scales.Carex crinita (left): pistillate scale (a), perigynium (b), achene (g); C. gynandra (right): pistillate scale (c), perigynium (d), achenes (e, g). Standley, Lisa A., “A Clarification of the Status of Carex crinita and C. gynandra,” Rhodora, Journal of the New England Botanical Club, 1983, Vol. 85, No. 841.