En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - November 12, 2009

From: Kensington, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Clearing up the nativity of so-called Baltimore sedge (Carex senta)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Smarty Pants: Hi, did you ever get more clarity on the Carex senta issue (baltimore sedge)? Whether or not it was a wetland grass? I too am in Maryland and was thinking of planting it for a lawn, but not if it's only native way out west. If you have any other recommendation for a shade-loving native for a lawn, that would be wonderful. thanks in advance.

ANSWER:

Carex senta (swamp carex) according to the USDA Plants Database is native to Arizona, New Mexico and California and according to the Flora of North America it grows along streams and in wet meadows in Arizona, California, and Mexico—not New Mexico.  Someone apparently misidentified a sedge in New Mexico as C. senta when it was really Carex stricta (upright sedge).  You obviously have read our previous question and answer concerning Carex senta but we still do not know why it is called 'Baltimore sedge' by some sources.  USDA Plants Database says its common name is 'swamp carex' and Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) gives its common name as  'swamp carex' or 'swamp sedge'. Flora of North America didn't assign it a common name.  If you have read Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape by John Greenlee (and I suspect you have), you know that he calls it 'Baltimore sedge', but we have no idea where he got the common name.  The bottom line, however, is that Carex senta is not native to Maryland, despite its sometimes common name. We can, however, suggest some other shade-loving plants for lawns that are native to Maryland:

SEDGES AND GRASSES:

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge) and here are more photos and information and still more.

Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) and here are more photos and information and still more.

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats), wouldn't be considered a turf grass, but it is very attractive even after seed heads have set.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) is a tall attractive clumping grass.

GROUNDCOVER-TYPE WOODY AND HERBACEOUS PLANTS: 

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry) evergreen.

Cornus canadensis (bunchberry dogwood)

Geum canadense (white avens) evergreen.

Linnaea borealis (twinflower) evergreen.

Mitchella repens (partridgeberry) evergreen.

Packera obovata (roundleaf ragwort) evergreen.

Tiarella cordifolia (heartleaf foamflower)

PHOTOS FROM OUR IMAGE GALLERY:


Carex blanda

Carex pensylvanica

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Chasmanthium latifolium

Sorghastrum nutans

Gaultheria procumbens

Cornus canadensis

Geum canadense

Linnaea borealis

Mitchella repens

Packera obovata

Tiarella cordifolia

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Trimming of native Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass)
January 27, 2008 - Should Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass) be cut down in a similar fashion to other perennial grasses that go dormant in the winter.
view the full question and answer

Need to stabilize a south facing slope in Henderson, NC
April 30, 2010 - Hi, I have a south facing slope that is heavy clay with rock under it. It gets a lot of sun. I have planted a few bushes and some ground cover, but with all the snow and rain we had this past winter, ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to hold a slope in NY
May 17, 2010 - We recently built a house (on a hillside) and now are having some drainage issues on a fairly steep slope (a small creek is forming in the swale the excavator made "deal" with the drainage). Yester...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for St. Augustine grass
July 29, 2009 - I live in Georgetown, TX. I have an acre lot with many large Live Oak Trees. Currently we have St Augustine grass growing, but with the drought, it's not working out well with rainbirds putting down ...
view the full question and answer

Need plants for steep slope in Knoxville, TN.
January 10, 2013 - I have several steep banks that have to be weed-eated each year every week. Do you know if there are any kinds of ground cover that would take over the weeds on these steep dangerous banks. I live in ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center