Slough sedge is native to western North America from British Columbia to California where it grows in wetland habitats. The plant produces upright, angled stems approaching 1.2 meters in maximum height, growing in beds or colonies from rhizome networks. The inflorescence is a cluster of flower spikes accompanied by a long leaflike bract.
The lens-shaped seeds are eaten by many kinds of wildlife. Birds known to eat sedge seeds include coots, ducks, marsh birds, shorebirds, upland game birds, and songbirds. In addition to providing food for many wildlife species, sedges are also valuable for cover. Frequently they provide nesting cover for ducks, and their tufted growth furnishes concealment and bedding for other animals. Beavers, otters, muskrats and minks make their way through the sedges as they go to and from the water.
The leaves of slough sedge are used for both wrapping and twining in the grass baskets that are well known and widely marketed by Nitinaht and Nootka women even today.
The Nitinaht believed that picking grasses such as slough sedge for baskets and mats causes fog. The fisherman were always getting annoyed with the women who harvested these materials, because they were always making it foggy. It is said that Hesaquiat men shaved with this grass because the edges are so sharp. There is a saying in Hesaquiat which translates as “you’re just like citapt (slough sedge)” – you never change, because slough sedge is always the same and never seems to change in appearance.
Slough sedge provides erosion control and streambank stabilization. The dense swards of slough sedge provide sediment retention and nutrient uptake, thus contributing to water quality improvement. Emergent wetland plant communities dominated by slough sedge provide the following hydrologic functions: maintaining river or stream meander patterns; providing a broad, shallow plain where streams slow and sediment deposition occurs; stormwater abatement; a mixing zone where brackish and freshwaters meet; and nutrient-rich habitat for aquatic organisms, fish, waterfowl, and predators such as otter, bald eagles, herons, and raccoons to feed.
- Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part sun
- Water Requirements: Perennially Wet
- Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
- Growth Rate: Moderate
- Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
- Edible: No
- Mature Height: 2ft
- Mature Width: 1ft