Stunning sedges

After a superb day teaching us how to identify grasses John O’Reilly of Ptyxis Ecology returned to test our brains with his knowledge of sedges.

Starting out in the hall we were taught how to identify our sedges from our grasses and rushes which was extremely useful as I must admit I didn’t know sedges existed before the start of my placement with the Trust.

Many people knew the rhyme “sedges have edges”, but John also explained sedges have 3 leaves and will have separate male and female inflorescences. We then looked at a couple of samples John had brought with him and had a go at identifying them using a key.

Sedges at Eycott Hill

Sedges at Eycott Hill

We decided to brave the Cumbrian summer weather and headed out to Eycott Hill to look at the sedges we have on the reserve. When full waterproofs had been donned we left the carpark in search of sedges. We found one very quickly and I soon learned that a lot of what I had just been calling grass is actually sedge.

Sedges like the ground to be a bit wet so we proceeded to the bogs in search of more. With the rain lessening we were able to start identifying the sedges ourselves with the key and throughout the day we all got better at it and were able to identify the final few sedges easily. John taught us many things and one of the funniest was how to spot tawny sedge; by bending over to see if it’s in your eye line, although it does look a bit like you’re trying to do a handstand in the bog!

Next up is trying to learn the many different species of moths we have in the UK and Cumbria as well as learning how to record species seen at the recording days at Eycott.

Rachel (student placement volunteer)

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Work at Eycott Hill Nature Reserve is possible thanks to National Lottery Players, and support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.