Quick facts

Common name(s): pendulous sedge, hanging sedge, drooping sedge, weeping sedge

Scientific name: Carex pendula

Family: Cyperaceae

Origin: native

Flowering season: May to July

Habitat: wet woodland and watersides

What does pendulous sedge look like?

Pendulous sedge is a striking evergreen perennial that forms large, dense clumps of broad grass-like leaves. Its long, slender, drooping flower spikes hang loosely. It can be an ancient woodland indicator, but is also a favourite of gardeners so may have been actively planted or escaped domestication.

Leaves: 2cm wide and 1m long. Dark green, linear, pleated.

Flowers: long, yellow-brown, pendulous, catkin-like spikes which can reach 2m in length including the stalks.

Stems: tall, bearing several slender, drooping flower spikes. The cross-section when cut is distinctly triangular.

Seeds: small and in their hundreds on each flower. Start off green but ripen to brown.

Not to be confused with: other sedges, but only pendulous sedge has the drooping flowers and seed heads. Grasses are superficially similar but have round, hollow flower stems.

Where to find pendulous sedge

In the UK, it's locally common in England and Wales and can be found in wet, ancient woodland and riversides where it prefers heavy clay soils.

Pendulous sedge is native to most parts of Europe, but is also found in north-west Africa, Madeira, the Azores and areas of the Middle East.

Credit: Tom Tookey / Alamy Stock Photo

Uses of pendulous sedge

The ripe seeds of pendulous sedge (which should be light brown in colour, not green) are edible and can be stripped from the seed heads. Just like wheat and barley, their husks need to be removed to reveal the small brown seeds. This is called winnowing. Then the seeds can either be toasted and added whole to breads or salads or ground into flour.

The leaves can be dried and either twisted into strong rope and cordage or woven into matting, or pounded and used as insulation in clothing.

Because of its attractive foliage and flowers, pendulous sedge is often grown at the edge of a garden pond or in a damp area of shade.

Did you know?

A useful saying to tell grasses, sedges and rushes apart (although this is not strictly true for all species) is: 'sedges have edges, rushes are round and grasses are hollow right up from the ground'.

Threats and conservation

Pendulous sedge is not currently considered to be under threat.