Oxfordshire Flora Group


Carex filiformis, Downy-fruited Sedge

Downy-fruited Sedge at Otmoor
Photo by Phil Cutt

Downy-fruited Sedge is Nationally Rare in the UK, being known from 10 hectads (10×10 km squares) in 1987 and 13 hectads in 2002, but it is mostly restricted to Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It grows in a wide range of habitats, and this is shown in Oxfordshire where it is found in limestone grassland at Westwell Gorse BBOWT reserve, in chalk pasture at Hartslock BBOWT reserve and in flood-plain hay-meadows at Grafton Lock SSSI and Otmoor SSSI. It prefers lime-rich soils, and tolerates raised nutrient levels.

A close-up showing the downy fruits
Photo by Rod d’Ayala

It has been known since 1923 at Westwell Gorse, where active management by BBOWT to reduce the grass density has seen the number of flowering spikes increase from 22 in 1985 to a high of 40,089 in 2005 – carefully monitored for 22 years by Ken and Brenda Betteridge with help from Cotswold Flora Group members.

Heads of Downy-fruited Sedge at Otmoor on 18th June 2015 showing a normal (left) and dried up head which had probably been caught by a late frost.
Photo by Judy Webb

At Otmoor, numbers were estimated by the Oxfordshire Flora Group at about 13,000 in 2013, hundreds are present at Hartslock, and more than 100 at Grafton Lock.