Sand sedge

Sand Sedge

©Neil Wyatt

Sand sedge

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Scientific name: Carex arenaria
Sand sedge is an important feature of our coastal sand dunes, helping to stabilise the dunes, which allows them to grow up and become colonised by other species.

Top facts


Height: up to 35cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Creeping through the sand dunes at our coastal sites, Sand sedge is a common perennial that uses underground stems (rhizomes) to spread. It is one of the first plants to colonise new or open sand dunes, its creeping stems spreading in straight lines below the surface of the sand, helping to bind and stabilise it.
In turn, this allows the dunes to grow and become colonised by other species. Sand sedge has wiry leaves and flowers from May to July.

What to look for

The aerial shoots of Sand sedge appear in straight lines, following the underground stems. It has wiry leaves and flower spikes that carry pale brown spikelets (containing the flowers) clustered together.

Where to find

Widespread around the coasts of the UK.

Did you know?

If you live along the coast, the chances are you have sandy soils and buffering, salt-laden winds that stunt plant growth. So why not try planting a coastal wildlife garden? Pick native species that have become well-adapted to the harsh conditions of seaside-living, such as Sand sedge, Sea holly, Thrift and Rosemary. These will all provide food and shelter for insects.