This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
The Early Sedge is found in Europe, N. Asia, in the N. Temperate Zone, and has been introduced into N. America. It is unknown in Glacial beds. In Great Britain it is absent in N. Devon, Pembroke, Cardigan, Mid Lancs, Roxburgh, Stirling, Banff; in W. Highlands it only occurs in Main Argyle, Dumbarton, Clyde Islands; but it does not occur in N. Highlands, nor Hebrides in the Northern Isles. Elsewhere it ranges as far N. as the Shetlands, and up to 2300 ft. in the Highlands, as well as in Ireland and the Channel Islands.
The Early Sedge is a local but widely dispersed ericetal species which grows on elevated ground, such as upland pastures, where it seeks the highest parts, heaths and moors. It may also be found in meadows in more lowland districts in less dry situations, but it is usually xerophilous.
This is a short, leafy sedge, with an erect stem, with many leaves, three-angled, usually smooth, dark-green, and shiny, leafless above. The leaves are large for the size of the plant, tufted, keeled, curved backwards. The bracts are leafy and clasping.
The spikes of the flower are of different sexes, 1 male, 1-3 female, the latter stalkless or nearly so, oblong egg-shaped. The male are erect. The glumes are spreading, with a green midrib, egg-shaped with a long point. The perigynia are inversely egg-shaped, 3-sided, acute, and downy. The nut or utricle is obo-void, inversely egg-shaped, narrow below.
This sedge is 6 in. high. The flowers are early, appearing in April. The plant is perennial, propagated by roots.
The floral mechanism is similar to that of sedges generally, the male spike-lets are slender and erect, the female inclined, oblong, crowded. The flowers are pollinated by the wind.
The nut is 3-sided, and when it is ripe it falls close to the parent clump, being dispersed to no distance.
The Early Sedge is a humus-loving plant, growing on humus soil. The fungi, Puccinia sylvatica and Ustilago caricis, are found to infest it.
The second Latin name refers to the scent, which is like cloves. Early Sedge is called Pink Grass and Iron Grass. Essential Specific Characters: 328. Carex caryophyllea, Latour. - Stem short, leaves flat, curved, 1 male spikelet, 1-3 female, oblong, glumes ovate, fruit obovoid.
Photo. A. R. Horwood - Early Sedge (Carex caryophyllea, Latour.)