Bermuda Sedge (Carex bermudiana)

Bermuda Sedge

Sedges are closely related to grasses and look very much like them. They grow as individual plants with long thin leaves. The edges of the leaves can be very sharp.  The leaves of the endemic Bermuda Sedge grow to 45 – 75 cm (1.5 to 2.5 feet) long and about 1 cm (0.5 inches) wide. The leaves have a triangular-shaped depression in the middle of them, which can be useful in telling Sedge apart from grasses.

Bermuda Sedge flowers in spring. Sedge only has a few flowers and these look like greyish brown fuzzy spikes. The flower spikes are 2.5-5 cm (1-2 inches) long followed by a seed head. Rats love to eat the seed heads of Bermuda Sedge which limits this plants ability to produce new plants on mainland Bermuda. On Nonsuch Island, which is rat-free, Bermuda Sedge self-seeds and is growing well.

Bermuda Sedge would have grown on the floor of the original Bermudian forest, beneath a canopy of Bermuda Cedar and Palmetto. Bermuda Sedge can grow in very wet conditions like in freshwater marshes, or in forest settings. The decomposing leaves and low light on the forest floor provide ideal nutrient-rich, moist growing conditions. Bermuda Sedge became rare due to clearing of forest habitats and competition from invasive plants. It can still be found in isolated places at Abbots Cliff and Paget Marsh, and is now being planted in restored forests.

Nathaniel Britton wrote in 1918 that Bermuda Sedge “is very rare and presumably on the verge of extinction”. Today Bermuda Sedge remains critically endangered. Active conservation efforts are underway to propagate Bermuda Sedge in greenhouses and replant it in parks and nature reserves.

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