This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Essential Specific Characters: 321. Scirpus maritimus, L. - Stem caespitose, leaves numerous, furrowed, linear, spikelets in cyme, many, brown.
This common maritime sedge is found in the North Temperate Zone in Europe and Siberia, but not in any early plant beds. It occurs in all maritime counties, except W. Kent, S. Lines, X. Ebudes, as far north as the Shetland Islands. Inland it is found in Surrey, Norfolk, Suffolk, Ireland, and the Channel Islands.
Sand Sedge (Carex Arenaria, L.)
The Sand Sedge is a familiar seaside species, which is very widely distributed and common on sandy coasts, growing on sand dunes and elsewhere at high-water mark amongst grasses and herbage, and helping to bind it together by its numerous stolons.
From a creeping root, which forms a matted kind of growth over a wide area, the stems are but short, with long, underground trailing shoots lying on or near the surface, curved, 3-sided,1 and roughish. The leaves are rigid, with the margins rolled back. The bracts resemble the leaves, the lower ones being subfoliaceous and membranous.
The flowers are in spikelets, borne in a terminal spike, with barren upper male flowers, the fertile ones below, many-flowered, crowded, and interrupted. The spikes are flattened at the margin, and pale brown. The nut is brownish in colour, and flat, plano-convex, with 2 ridges. There are 2 stigmas with branched styles. The spikelets are more or less unisexual.
The Sand Sedge is 6 in. high. The flowers are found in June. The plant is perennial, propagating itself rapidly in loose sand, on which account it is used for planting to keep the coast unimpaired.
The flowers are proterogynous, the stigmas ripening first, bringing about cross-pollination, and they are wind-pollinated. The flowers are solitary, and the lower are female, the upper male, and those in the middle are bisexual. There are 2-3 stamens and 2 stigmas.
The nut, a utricle (one-seeded), when ripe falls in the immediate vicinity of the parent plants, being indehiscent, and thus clumps of the plant are formed in course of time. The plant is also reproduced vegetatively to a verv great extent.
It is a salt-lover, living in a saline soil, and at the same time a sand plant, requiring a sand soil.
Two stages of the fungi Puccinia arenariicola and P. schoeleriana attack this plant, the first stages in each case growing on a Composite plant. This and other Carices are also liable to be infested by Sclerotinia duriceaina.
1 Possibly connected with the threefold arrangement of the leaves.
A beetle, Anthicus bimaculatus, is found amongst herbage made up of this sand sedge.
Carex is the Latin word for reed-grass or sedge, and the second Latin name indicates its preference for a sandy habitat. It is called Sea Bent and Stare.
The Sand Sedge has been planted on dykes in Holland to prevent the incursions of the sea, and has been used for this purpose on the British coast. From the roots a sort of sarsaparilla has been made in Germany. Sedges have been used as fodder for cattle, for thatch, and fuel. Some species are used like Raffia Grass to tie up vines, or to put between the staves of casks to make them water-tight, and they have also been woven over Florence flasks, or used for chair bottoms.
Essential Specific Characters: 325. Carex arenaria, L. - Stem rough above, soboles long, leaves linear-lanceolate, spike oblong, interrupted, upper spikelets male, fruit ovate, broadly winged.