This wetland is unusual for the Piedmont Plateau. More common along coastal shorelines, the sedge meadow develops where high water levels keep the soil saturated most of the year. Too wet and unstable to support shallow-rooted herbaceous plants and most wood plants, it does favor the growth of vegetation adapted to these conditions; sedges, rushes and some grasses.
Sedges have angular stems, unlike rushes and grasses. Rush stems are round and hollow, and grasses have jointed stems and flattened blades. Common names for these plants are often misleading. For example, woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus) is a sedge about 4 feet tall, with large, wooly seed heads. Other easily recognized species are also here: Soft rush (Juncus effusus) has dark green round stems forming dense clumps that stand erect throughout the year. Soft-stem bulrush (Scirpus validus), up to 6 feet tall, grows singly or in small groups in standing water. Tussock sedge (Carex stricta) forms low clumps in standing water or mud, and often provides valuable steppingstones and loafing places for wetland animals.
The sedge meadow is excellent wildlife habitat. Its plants provide nesting sites, and their abundant seeds are food. Eventually, naturally accumulating soil and vegetative matter will probably elevate and dry the wetland, allowing woody plants and other herbaceous species to invade this community. Until then, however, we can enjoy this unique and diverse habitat.
View a map of the Nature Walk