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Drooping Sedge (Carex prasina)

Life history

Species overview

Drooping Sedge (Carex prasina), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in shaded, seeping ravine bottoms in deciduous or mixed woods, occassionaly in sedge meadows. Blooming occurs early May through early June; fruiting occurs early June through early September. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late July.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from other Carex species in the section Hymenochlaenae by its often bent beak and perigynia with only 2 veins.
  • Flower characteristics: 2 to 4 lateral spikes, 1 per node, each overlapping the 1 above, uncrowded, nodding or drooping at maturity; pistillate spikes with 25 to 50 perigynia, narrowly cylindric but broader and more densely flowered at distal end; terminal spike male or gynecandrous with a few female flowers distally.
  • Fruit characteristics: Perigynia green to golden green at maturity, strongly 2-ribbed but otherwise veinless or nearly so, loosely enveloping achene, lance-ovoid, membranous, base with short stipe, apex tapering to flattened, glabrous; beak often bent and with minute hyaline teeth; achenes substipitate.
  • Leaf characteristics: 2 to 3 basal sheaths, green or tinged with maroon, bladeless, very short or absent, glabrous; others green on back, white-hyaline on front; blades flat, glabrous.


  • Blooming phenology: early May through early June
  • Fruiting phenology: early June through early September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early June through late July


  • Growth form: Graminoid
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Section: Hymenochlaenae
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, A. rubrum, Betula alleghaniensis, B. papyrifera, Tsuga canadensis, Carex scabrata, Listera convallarioides, Cryptotaenia canadensis.

State status

Note: Drooping Sedge (Carex prasina) was removed from the Wisconsin E/T list on January 1, 2014 per administrative rule ER-27-11. Learn more.

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Drooping Sedge (Carex prasina). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Carex prasina in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in shaded, seeping ravine bottoms in deciduous or mixed woods, occassionaly in sedge meadows.
  • Soils: Moist or wet soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Drooping Sedge. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Drooping Sedge. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.
  • Survey for and control invasive plants prior to conducting timber operations, as these can be spread by vehicles and often respond vigorously to increased light; see forestry BMPs for invasive species.
  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.


Drooping Sedge Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Drooping Sedge Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Drooping Sedge Photo.

Photo by Ryan Clemo, Wisconsin DNR.

Drooping Sedge Photo.

Photo by Ryan Clemo, Wisconsin DNR.

Drooping Sedge Photo.

Photo by Ryan Clemo, Wisconsin DNR.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition