This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(name of obscure origin). Cyperaceae. Sedge. Grass-like perennials of very "many kinds, a few of which are grown in bogs or as border plants.
Flowers unisexual, in spikes, the staminate naked and subtended by a bract or scale, the pistillate comprising a single pistil inclosed in a thin sac or perigyn-ium; monoecious or rarely dioecious: stems or culms solid, not jointed, mostly 3-angled: leaves grass-like but 3-ranked. One large group has 2 styles and a lenticular achene, and the spikes are commonly androgynous or contain both sexes (Fig. 796); another division has 3 styles and a triangular achene, and the spikes are commonly unisexual, the staminate being above (Figs. 797, 798).
Carices are very abundant in cool temperate regions, both in species and in individual plants. There are more than 800 known species. Many of them grow on dry land, but the largest species grow in low grounds and swales, and often form much of the bulk of bog hay. Carices cover great areas of marsh land in the upper Mississippi region and are employed in the manufacture of "grass carpets" or Crex fabrics. The species are difficult to distinguish because they are very similar, and the study of them is usually left to specialists. Some of our broad-leaved native species make excellent borders and interesting clumps in corners about buildings and along walls. Of such are C. platyphylla, C. planlaginea, C. albursina. Many of the lowland species are excellent adjuncts to the pond of hardy aquatics. Others have very graceful forms, with drooping spikes and slender culms (Fig. 798). The following native species, and probably others, have been offered by collectors: C. aurea, C. eburnea, C. flava, C. Grayi (one of the best), C. hystricina, C. lupulina and its variety pedunculata, C. lurida, C. paupercula, C. penn-sylvanica, C. planlaginea, C. Pseudo-Cyperus, C. retrorsa, C. Richardsonii, C. riparia, C. Tucker-manii, C. utriculata, C. vulpinoidea.
The species present no difficulties in cultivation if the natural habitat is imitated. Propagated readily by seed sown in late fall (germinating in spring) or by division of the clumps.
M6rrowi, Boott (C. japonica, Hort., not Thunb. C. tenuissima, Hort. C. acutifolia, Hort.). Fig. 799. Leaves stiff and evergreen, long-pointed, in the common garden form with a white band near either margin: culm 1 ft. with a terminal staminate spike and 2 or 3 slender pistillate spikes (1 in. long) from sheaths: perigynium small and firm, somewhat excurved, 2-toothed, glabrous. Japan. G.C. III. 13:173. R.B. 20, p. 9. - A very handsome plant, suited for pots or the border. The stiff clean white-edged foliage keeps in condition for months, making the plant useful for decorations in which pot-plants are used. It is perfectly hardy in Cent. N. Y., holding its foliage all winter. A useful florists' plant.
Fig. 796. Carex (C. scoparia), with androgynous spikes and lenticular achenes. (X 1). N. Amer.
Fig. 797. Carex (C. lurida), with staminate terminal spikes and trigonous achenes. (X 1/2)- N. Amer.
Fig. 798. Carex (C. longirostris),with terminal staminate spikes and drooping pistillate spikes. ( X 1/3). N. Amer.
Fig. 799. Carex Morrowii,
Rudge (C. tenaria, Hort. C. tenera, Hort.). Slender, but stiff, to 30 in.: leaves narrow, rolling more or less when dry: staminate spikes long-stalked: pistillate spikes 1 or 2, short-stalked, short, with few large, turgid, tapering, shining perigynia and awl-like, rough-pointed scales. N. Amer.
Densely tufted, with many very narrow leaves, and filiform culms 1 1/2 ft. or less high: spikes 5-7, the terminal staminate, linear and short-stalked, the lateral pistillate (or perhaps staminate at base), oblong or cylindrical and dense-flowered, about 1 in. long, and with aristate scales: perigynium 3-angled (stigmas 3), lance-ovate, attenuate at base and with a 2-toothed scabrous beak. New Zeal. - A good hardy edging plant when a tufted grassy effect is desired.
Allied to the preceding: densely tufted: leaves leathery, semi-terete ,very narrow, brown-red: spikes 5-8, the terminal staminate and linear-cylindrical, long-stalked, the lateral pistillate and cylindrical, 1 1/2 in. long, densely-flowered: perigynium plano-convex (stigmas 2), produced into a long margined scabrous deeply bidentate beak. New Zeal. - Grown for its reddish foliage.
Culms erect, 1-2 ft.: leaves long and grass-like: staminate flowers in terminal spikes: pistillate flowers in 2-3 cylindrical, sessile or subsessile spikes: perigynium lenticular, small, very short-beaked, obscurely 2-toothed, finely nerved, longer than the narrow scale. Japan, Austral. New Zeal. - Useful for bog planting.
1 in. or more broad, stiff, but with no midnerve, flat and thick, evergreen: culm 16 in. or less high-bearing at its summit a single whitish spike which is staminate at top: perigynium ovoid, thin and inflated. Rich mountain woods, Va. B.M. 1391 (as C. Fraseriana). - Rare, and a very remarkable plant.
C. baccans, Nees. Robust, with curving leaves to 2 ft. long and 1/2in.. broad: fruit berry-like (whence the name), crimson or vermilion, in clustered spikes standing well above the leaves India. G. 1:461. Useful for pots or for planting in a conservatory, for its ornamental fruit, but probably not now in cult, commercially. - C. gallica variegata is offered abroad as a "very elegant, showy and charming" carex. - C. riparia, Curt., a rank-growing lowland species of wide distribution, is sometimes grown in a variegated-lvd. form. The name has no botanical standing. - With the extension of wild gardening, and particularly of bog- and water-gardening, many other species of Carex may be expected to appear in the trade lists.
L. H. B