This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
A small, tufted species 6-9 inches high, with leaves rather shorter than the stem. Spikelets 3 or 4, the 2 uppermost closer than the rest, oval-oblong at first, but on maturity the long-beaked fruits spread and give an almost star-shaped form to the spikelet. The male flowers occupy the lower half of the top spikelet and part of the base of the others. Stigmas 2. Fruit oblong, tapering into a long beak, not winged.
Marshes and peat bogs from the plains to the Alps. May, June.
Europe from Italy and Spain to the Arctic regions, Northern Asia, North America. British.
Stems tufted, at least a foot high, with long, narrow leaves. Spikelets 4-6, slightly distant, of a pale green. Male flowers usually very few, at the base of most of the spikelets. Stigmas 2. Fruits not longer than the glumes, rounded at the top, with a small point, but not tapering into a beak like the last.
Bogs and marshy meadows; less frequent in the Alps than in the plains. May, June.
Europe from the Arctic regions to the Caucasus; N. America. British.
A slender, leafy, green sedge with stems a foot or more high and very long, narrow leaves. Easily known by its small, pale green spikelets at considerable distances from each other, and the outer bracts of 3 or 4 lowest spikelets being very long and leaf-like. The spikelets are mixed, male at the base, but the lowest is almost entirely female. Fruits tapering to a point.
Woods, hedges, and shady places; common. May, June.
Europe, Central and Northern Asia. British.
A very variable species. Stems 6-18 inches high, rigid, rough above. Leaves very narrow. Spikelets 3-5, sub-sessile, erect, close or rather distant. Inflorescence composed of chiefly female spikelets below, and a more slender male spikelet above. Glumes imbricate, dark, obtuse, with green midrib. Beak very short. Terete, smooth. Stigmas 2. Fruit orbicular, rarely triquetrous.
Damp places and marshes; common up to the Alps. May, June.
Europe, Western and Northern Asia. British.
A very glaucous plant with creeping rootstock. Stems round, 9-18 inches high, varying like the leaves, according to the habitat. Leaves variable in length but always glaucous, often as long as the stems. Male spikelets usually 2 or 3 at the top, stalked; female spikelets 2 or 3, more compact, broader, on longer stalks and more or less drooping when mature, and the sheaths of the leafy bracts are very short. Glumes dark brown. Stigmas 3. Fruits ovoid, with 3 obtuse angles, not beaked.
Pastures (both wet and dry) and waste places; very common and extending to the lower Alps. May, June.
Europe, extending eastward to the Caucasus and northward to the Arctic regions; N. America. British.