Hero Image

San Diego Sedge

Carex spissa

San Diego sedge in bloom. Photo: SK Reid.
San Diego sedge in bloom. Photo: SK Reid.


San Diego sedge is a stiffly upright evergreen plant with bluish green leaves that showed exceptional toughness and drought tolerance for a riparian species. It sent up handsome flower spikes that matured to an attractive, buff-colored seed head held above its sharp sword-shaped leaves. None of these seeds were seen to germinate in the field, making it unlikely to be a nuisance in dry gardens. Plants at all irrigation levels grew throughout the season and improved in appearance as they matured. There were no significant differences in growth between treatments making this a good candidate for a variety of garden situations where a substantial architectural element is desired.

At the time we evaluated this California native sedge, Sunset Western Garden Book had it listed as a high water needs plant, which was a perfectly reasonable assumption given its native habitat along streams and bogs and tolerance of standing water. However, our trial results demonstrate that, given good establishment irrigation, the long deep roots of this plant, which were revealed when we had to remove them from the field, gave the plant considerable drought tolerance.

Basic Info

Submitted by: UC Davis Arboretum
Trial Exposure: Sun
Year evaluated: 2007
Height & Width
(after 2 years):
36" x n/a" - UC Davis
Reported Height & Width
(at maturity):
3-4' x 2-3'
WUCOLS plant type: P N
Water Needs & WUCOLS Region:
Low - Region 2 
Mean Overall 
Appearance rating:
(1-5 Scale, 5 is highest)
BR - UC Davis 
Flowering Months
Summer-Fall - UC Davis

Growth and Quality Data

Click Here for Complete Data Set

Carex spissa at 40% of ETo in midsummer. Photo: SK Reid.
Carex spissa at 40% of ETo in midsummer. Photo: SK Reid.