Perry's Perennial Pages

Carex muskingumensis 'Oehme'

    Perennial of the Month-- February 2003 

(care' ex  muss-king' u-men-siss  Oh' me)  (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Variegated Palm Sedge

Family: Cyperaceae, Sedge

Height x width: 18-24" x 12-18" 

Growth rate: moderate (faster under ideal conditions)

Foliage: leaves horizontal, about 1/4inch wide and 4-6inches long from "stems", creating a palm tree effect hence the common name, emerging rich green developing a thin yellow uniform edge for which this plant is noted and grown; stems are triangular compared to rounded grass stems, flowerstems are solid without nodes compared to grasses usually hollow with nodes; where blade and sheath join (ligule) is generally absent in sedges but conspicuous in grasses

Flowers: inconspicuous, unisexual (separate male and female but on the same plant) compared to grasses with both parts on same flower

Hardiness: zones 4-9 (often listed only to 5 but has proved reliable in zone 4 in Vermont)

Soil: moist, tolerates dry to occasionally wet

Light: sun (prefers in north) or shade

Pests and Problems: few serious, occasionally mites, may get leggy and topple in deep shade

Landscape habit, uses: massing in shade to add subtle color, fronts of borders, containers especially in shade, moist areas and along watersides; mainly as specimen where elegant leaf margins will be noticed at close range; combine with other gold or yellow plants such as Yucca 'Golden Sword', Lamium 'Golden Anniversary', Geranium 'Ann Folkard', gold edged or leaved hostas, blue oat grass, blue fescues

Other interest: genus name from the Greek keiro meaning to cut, refering to the sharp edge of leaf margins; genus found in most temperate and arctic regions, native depending on species but mainly to U.S., Japan and New Zealand; this cultivar introduced in 1994 by Plant Delights (NC) as a sport from the garden of famous landscape designer Wolfgang Oehme

Other culture: low maintenance, cut back previous year's foliage in spring if needed, spreads by runners if in good situation

Propagation: spring division or cuttings during season

Sources: Plant Delights Nursery (NC), North Creek Nurseries (wholesale), Joy Creen Nursery (OR)

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