Carex gaudichaudiana

Tufted Sedge, Fen Sedge

Family: Cyperaceae

This is a loosely-tufted clumping-sedge to over 100 cm tall with a creeping rhizome.

It is a widespread species in NSW, growing along the entire coastal and tablelands subdivisions and into the western slopes. It extends into south-east Queensland, most of Victoria and Tasmania, the east of South Australia, as well as New Zealand.

It is found growing mainly grows in wet areas (swamps and creekbanks) from near sea level to alpine areas.

Carex have simple leaves, grass-like and linear and often produced in a clump. In this species, leaves are linear, to 100 centimetres or more long and only 0.4 cm wide.

Carex have flowers arranged in inflorescences called spikes with flowers generally called spikelets. Flowers can be unisexual or bisexual and have reduced perianth parts and basal glumes (bracts). Spikes are usually clustered together into an inflorescence with the flowering stem called a culm.

In this species, the flowering stems (culms) are usually shorter than the leaves, but can be to 90 cm long, and rough to the touch.  Dark purplish brown flowers/spikelets are produced in dense linear spikes with 3 to 8 spikes creating an inflorescence to 20 cm long. Upper spikes are male and lower spikes female; produced in spring and summer and often after rain if growing in a dry position.

Carex produce fruits which are very small nuts. In this species, they are rounded and yellow-brown in colour.

In the garden

Grows best in full sun in damp places although author has them growing in quite shady places. useful around pools or front edge of garden beds. Attractive in group planting.

It is reported to be hardy. Very useful for creating frog and lizard habitat as well as insects.

Can become invasive as they seed freely. To prevent this cut of flower/seed stems before seeds set.

Pest free.


Division (easy) or from seed.

Other information

Carex is a diverse genus of at least 1750 species worldwide, making this the fifth most-diverse genus in the world. Australia has about 90 native species. There are some established exotic species too. They typically inhabit wet areas but there are some dryland as well as rainforest species. NSW currently has 44 species.

Can likely regenerate from seedbank if burnt as well as reshoot from buried rhizomes.

Carex – Latin name meaning for “sedge”. Sedges are monocotyledonous plants that are not grasses but grass-like. They differ by having less modified flowers, rhizomes, and generally leaves with angular cross sections and sharp edges.

gaudichaudiana – named in Honour of Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupre (1789-1854) – a French botanist who accompanied Louis de Freycinet on his circumnavigation of the earth and collected plants in Australia.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Carex gaudichaudiana profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Carex~gaudichaudiana

VicFlora – The Flora of Victoria Online – Carex gaudichaudiana profile page https://vicflora.rbg.vic.gov.au/flora/taxon/9893ad3f-4c2d-464d-9fa1-6fca79c451fc

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

By Jeff Howes. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.