Carex grayi

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Carex grayi Carey


Life form: grass
Usage: ornamental plant

Exposure: shade   7

Moisture: moist bis Moisture: wet

Soil: loam

Arrangement: alternate
Leaves: decidious

Shape: linear

Division: simple

Shape: not specified
Fruit: nut


134B / 229143 

Inflorescence: spike

Petals: single
Habit: not specified

Growth form: not specified



Carex grayi is a grass with ornamental inflorescences and fruits that make it popular in floristry.


Carex grayi was described by John Carey in 1848. The name is considered as validly published.


Carex grayi is a species in the genus Carex which contains approximately 2264 to 2485 species and belongs to the family of the Cyperaceae (Sedge Family). The type species of the genus is Carex hirta.


Carex grayi - habitus


The grasses reach heights of 40 to 60 centimetres and are comparatively slow-growing and long-lived. They have a erect habit and have an upright habit and spread slowly. The main growing season is in spring and summer.


Carex grayi is deciduous. The dark-green, simple leaves are alternate. They are linear with entire margins and parallel venation. The leaves are around 20 to 30 centimetres large. The foliage is porous.

Flowers and Fruits

Carex grayi produces spikes of green flowers in June.

The grasses produce only few ornamental brown nuts from spring to summer. The surface of the fruits is prickly.

Root System


Carex grayi is native to eastern Canada, the Northeast of the US and the central Northeast of the US.


The grasses prefer a shady situation on moist to wet soil. They prefer loamy soil with a pH between 5,7 and 7,2. The plants need a soil depth of at least 20 centimetres for good growth. They tolerate temperatures down to -18°C (USDA zone 7) and need a frost-free period of at least 12 weeks. The plants are suited for the shore areas of and in artificial standing bodies of water, the shores areas of and in natural standing bodies of water, natural streams and bog gardens.

Classification after Prof. Dr. Sieber

  • banks
  • open areas

Tolerance of special soil conditions

  • none: soil salinity
  • low: drought
  • medium: calcareous soil
  • high: anaerobic soil


Carex grayi is considered a collector's perennial and a valuable perennial for cut flowers. The ornamental value lies especially in the attractive winter aspect. The recommended planting distance is 40 centimetres, the grasses are best planted in groups of 3 to 5. Suited for rockeries and for beds and borders, as well as suited as cut flowers.

Maintenance and Propagation

The plants need little to no maintenance if grown under suitable conditions.

  • Watch out for sprouting plantlets and remove if necesarry.

Propagate by sowing or by division.


Pests and Diseases


  • Walter Erhardt, Erich Götz, Nils Bödeker, Siegmund Seybold: Der große Zander. Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-8001-5406-7. (Ger.)
  • Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003, ISBN 0-7513-3738-2.

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