Counting On Carex

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Carex is a genus of sedges consisting of over 30 species found in habitats ranging from pine barrens to alpine.  North America is home to 7 species of Carex, most notably Carex pennsylvanica and Carex muskingumensis.  Because they have evolved in North American typology they are tolerant of most, if not all, soils in the U.S. depending on what species it is.  

Previously Carex was a blemish on the horticulture production industry because it does not provide the big showy displays of flowers typically in demand by the general population.  Yet, recently, it has newly gained fame within the industry.  

With the growing distaste in the traditional turf grasses due to their heavy needs for fertilizers and irrigation, Carex is beginning to replace the classic Kentucky blue grass, perennial rye grass, and zoysia grass as a turf alternative.  It has a finely textured foliage that acts as a brilliant foil for most any garden types.

Nonetheless, it does have limitations.  It can tolerate medium traffic at most so don’t expect the grand open areas of tomorrow to harness this new trend quite yet.  Also, the North American Carex tops out at roughly 12″ giving it a somewhat “unruly appearance.”  Furthermore, in the Spring, panicles of yellow pollen rise above the grass which some may dislike (pollen is incredibly difficult to get off of clothes). 

Let alone the beauty of the sedge as a textural element in the garden, the grass is incredibly low maintenance requiring only one cut-back per year.  That will be this genus’s name to fame.  As soon as a sterile and lower growing Carex is invented through Genetic Modification I am nearly positive that over a long-extended period of time the assets it contains will allow it to take over traditional turf grasses as the lawn.  Who knows it might even become the traditional turf over time!

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