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Monday - February 04, 2008

From: Silver Spring, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Source for Carex senta plugs in Maryland
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have discovered that Carex senta would be a great plant to replace grass that is just not working. There are numerous articles supporting this, as well as my local county extension office. I am not able to find the plugs, I have tried numerous companies without success. Any suggestion you might have for a plug supplier would be appreciated!


One reason you may be having trouble locating plugs of Carex senta is that the USDA Plant Map shows that particular Carex is found naturally only in New Mexico, Arizona and California. It is native to North America, but does not show up in our Native Plant Database. However, lo and behold, it turns out a common name for Carex senta is Baltimore sedge. Searching on that name, we found a website, Suppliers of Wetland Plants List, on which there is a list of suppliers in Maryland. We found reference to this suppliers list on the website Wetland Plants, which said it listed "some" of the wetland plants that would be found on the wetland suppliers list.

We're not sure why a plant listed on the USDA Plant List would show a plant regarded as a wetlands plant growing exclusively in the Southwest. This could be a confusion in terminology, a change in a plant name, or who knows? Since the nurseries on the list do not appear to have websites, we would suggest you call them until you find someone who supplies plugs of the Carex you are looking for. Another possibility is that your county extension office, if they are recommending this plant, might know a source for it. We did check for it in our Native Plant Suppliers list for Maryland, and got no results. However, you might try contacting them directly.

Speaking of confusion in terminology, we then looked at the Native Plant Database and found a plant, Carex stricta (upright sedge) that, according to the USDA Plants Map is found up and down the East Coast and as far west as Texas. However, the Carex stricta is considerably taller than the Carex senta, so that may not be the answer, either. And, then, there is Carex texensis (Texas sedge), which also is shown on the USDA Plants Map as growing in Maryland, and west to Texas (of course), and in California. The height of Carex texensis is between Carex stricta and Carex senta.

Conclusion: We're way mixed up and you probably are by now, too. Any one of those three sedges should qualify for Maryland, even if the USDA Plant Map doesn't agree. Hopefully, you can figure out which is the right grass and find it on one of the supplier lists.


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