Lake County Forest Preserves Horizon

A recent article by Linda Curtis in the Lake County Forest Preserves May issue, 2016

has information on sedges worth reading.

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What good are sedges?

I was having my hair cut today and I told the hairdresser that I found a small rare plant. She asked, “What good is it?” A fair question from someone who couldn’t care less. Well, it was only discovered in 1991,” I said, hoping to elucidate, “so no research has been done yet to find its medicinal or food value.”

“Then what good is it?” she asked again. A fair question for someone like me who cares about rare and endangered plants and realizes she is one of a few who can or could understand.

So I went back to the place where I found the rare plant, a sedge. “OK, sedge,” I said, “Talk to me. Tell me what good you are.”

It gave me no mental insights, but it sure was cute. The tiny spikes were less than an inch long, in rows of two. While I was admiring its small form, a creature of the ground litter legged by, paused, turned its thick black head, and munched one of the spike’s seed-sacs, and moved on. Hmm, I thought, one point as food for an arthropod.

I was still looking at the plant when a swooping sound made me look at a bird that just snatched up the black leggy creature and flew up to a treetop. I could hear the “feed me, feed me” sounds of baby birds. Hmm, I thought, another point for being in a food chain of what-eats-what-eats-what.

I noticed its leaves grew in rows from the grassy tuft. I pulled on one, a rooted cord that I lifted from between other grassy plants. Hmm, I thought, it lives with other plants. If one dies, others cover the soil in its place.

A thunderclap overhead reminded me my time was limited. This area was known to flood from heavy rains and I wondered how the plants survived. Hmm, I remembered, some plants have enough air spaces in their underground stems and can survive for days underwater. That’s why they can survive on a floodplain as they hang on tight with intermeshed roots. That would help other plants “hang in there.” Plants don’t live in isolation, plants are part of an association. A little plant is just one part. It was good.

So, months later, I went back for another haircut. “I found a rare small plant.” And as before, she asked, “What good is it?” I would have liked to say I ate it and it was delicious, but I couldn’t. Or, it was pretty, and I picked it for a bouquet. No. So I said it was small, rare, and food for little creatures. “Well,” she said, “What good it that?”

So, I went back again to visit the plants. The seed-sacs were no longer there, eaten, I presumed, by birds and bugs. Only the leaves, dry and withering, were left on the tuft. As I sat and hoped it would talk to me, a bird hopped down and with quick jerking movements plucked some dried leaves and flew into the marsh. Hmm, I thought. That’s not the same bird I saw before, it’s some kind of wren.

I walked to the edge of the marsh and watched. Head up, head down, up and down, a perky sedge wren constructed a nest in the marsh in a clump of sedges. It wove the leaves in and out of the other leaves and made a domed roof over its nest. Hmm, I thought, nest and roof all in one. The bird sat on top of its nest and rested. Hmm, a nesting and resting place, I liked that.

A few months later, my hair needed another trim. “You know that rare plant I found?” I asked the hairdresser. “Yes,” she answered, did you ever find out what it was good for?”

“Well, yes,” I answered. “It was used to build the nest of a sedge wren. The plant was a sedge and has roughish leaves that cling together and hold the bird’s domed nest together in bad weather.” I showed her a photo that I took of the wee wren and its nest. “The bird is an artist like you,” I said, “but arranges sedge leaves instead of hair.”

“Yes,” she agreed, “That IS what it’s good for.”


Linda W. Curtis










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Sedge Season in the upper Midwest!

From Harbinger, Spring Issue 2016. Illinois Native Plant Society.


Botanist have documented almost 200 species at Hosah Park in Zion, Illinois.

Of these, 169 are natives and thirteen are endangered or threatened. Among the more common are blazing star (Liatris spp.) showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa, flowering spure (Euphorbia corollata), prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa) and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii). Nobody volunteers information about the location of the most endangered plants.

In 2013, the INPS”S indefatigable Linda Curtis surveyed Hosah Park’s Carex, discovering ten species that she included with the inventory of 53 species growing in the Zion beach-ridge plain that comprises IBSP, Spring Bluff, Chiwaukee Prairie, and Waukegan Harbor.

As Curtis tells it in Carex of Hosah Park (, the sand savannas at Hosah have “upland Carex species, including C. pensylvanica, C. muhlenbergii, and C. siccata in the semi-shade of the savanna trees.” The Hosah wetlands have “masses of southern cattail with red dogwood shrubs and willows along the edges” where C. pellita and C. stricta grow.

In the wet prairie between the road and foredune, Curtis found C. crawei, C. tetanica, and C. buxbaumii. She also noted C. bebbii and C. muehlenbergii in road crevices and along roads and C. brevior and C. muehlenbergii grew by the railroad right-of-way that runs along the site’s western edge.

An article in the recent Harbinger Magazine from the Illinois Native Plant Society comments that Linda Curtis found ten Carex sedges in Zion’s Hosah Park on the Lake Michigan Coast. Hosah Park was once slated for development as was  Chiwaukee Prairie. Lucky us, even if a few roads remain, they are now hiking and biking trails for all to see and enjoy.

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Rare Carex discovered

Palmetto, Journal of the Florida Native Plant Society, published in Dec. 2014 Read the article here: Carex peninsulae – Florida’s globally imperiled Carex

Linda Curtis’ discovery of peninsula sedge, Carex paeninsulae, a category G2 plant.

The plant image may be seen on the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants.C.paen Fl Atlas

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Carex Corner, plus Bog-Fen Carex reviews

Carex Corner is written for Harbinger: Illinois Native Plant Society.

Following after  is reviews for Bog-Fen Carex

Cx Crn wee sedgesjpgWonderful reviews are coming in. Thanks to all.

From Kew Botanic Garden, A. Marshall: “I like your description of a “belly-botanist” on p. 199 and will point this out to some of the botanists here at Kew!”

From Missouri Botanic Garden, K. Yatskievych:” The photography is excellent, the page layouts are simple and elegant, the cartoons are a delight, and your description of it as an entry-level botany guide was right on the mark.”

From Ecological Resource Specialist B. Hess: I enjoyed the layout/organization, the close-up photos, and the etymology of the sedge names.

From steward of LCFP, P. Showers after Bog-Fen book presentation: I was able to put the Bog-Fen manual to good use. You are one of the best public speakers I have heard, ….. charismatic.” (He means carexmatic)

From Dr. Robert Mohlenbrock, author of The Illustrated Flora of Illinois: Congratulations on your fine book. Your photos are truly outstanding. You have made an important contribution to the Illinois plant literature


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Beautiful paintings



Upper painting is a sedge meadow at LCFP Spring Bluff by steward Melissa Pierson, 2014. The lower painting was ussed by WES, Wisconsin Entomological Society of the Blandings Turtle and Ctenucha moth by Melissa Pierson, 2015,  as their October issue cover. The painting accompanies the poem in the menu labeled articles, “Is it time?”

Sedge Meadow Painting Melissa PiersonMoth, Turtle, Moon Linda Curtis

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The boar banned from sedges

I looked out my window and what did I see

but a hairy beast under the sycamore tree.

I saw his snout, and that tooth filled head,

eating a sedge from my garden bed.

I shouted, he snorted  as  I grabbed and pulled his hair.

Get away you beast, don’t come back, don’t you dare!

I let go my choke hold and his fur of bristles,

he ran to his boar herd through a field of thistles.

His story soon told that all boars should be wary.

Stay away from humans, they sure are scary.

Photo by James M. Curtis

(No animals were harmed during this photo shoot)

Linda convinces the boar to leave

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Dunesland Carex

fig2Dunesland Carex is  Linda Curtis’s next book in progress about the Carex of the  Lake Michigan Coast between Kenosha Dunes in Wisconsin  and  18 miles south to the Waukegan Harbor in Illinois. The image shows the former beaches of the ancient landform. Only a mile wide, it was built with erosional/depositional sand and gravel over the last 4,000 years. Some lands have lost their foredunes, such as Chiwaukee Prairie in Kenosha County.  Illinois Beach State Park’s beautiful sand dunes now extend almost to the state border, interrupted by North Point Marina in Illinois and Prairie Harbor Marina in adjoining Kenosha County. Waukegan dunes adjoin the Illinois Beach State Parks coastline. The sand dunes species are mostly different from those in Bog-Fen Carex and Woodland Carex, yet a few species grow in several habitats.


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Daughter Accepts Nomination for Linda Curtis

Tracey Lee Nielsen, my only daughter, accepted my nomination for Leaders of Lake County Awards, 2015 at the breakfast provided by Shaw Media for their Suburban Living. Here’s what she spoke to the listening faces. “I’m here to recognize my mother Linda W. Curtis as one of the difference makers in Lake County. She is due back in town next month so I have the honor of telling you a little bit about her and her impact on Lake County. Linda Curtis is a botanist who rediscovered the water marigold in Lake Villa’s Cedar Lake. In 1998, the Chicago Tribune did a wonderful article on her calling her the Lady of the Lake after this discovery. Ever since Mom retired from the science department of the College of Lake County, she continues her botany research with my Dad helping her in and out of ditches, through bogs and through very remote areas. I had to ask my parent to leave a log of their botanical journeys on their refrigerator in case they go missing one day! Linda has been a Friend of the Lake Villa library and volunteer herbarium coordinator of Volo Bog. My mom has a knock for finding rare plants and sharing her discoveries with herbaria across the country. She photographs and notes the location or gps of the plants, some never cataloged before. She writes articles for professional magazines, including Erigenia and Harbinger for Illinois Native Plant Society, Palmetto for the Florida Native Plant Society, and WES, Wisconsin Entomological Society. She is a self-published author of three books and a favorite speaker for plant societies.

Linda will speak to the DuPage Wild Ones on June 18 at Volo Bog, 2016. And Linda will sell both Woodland Carex and Bog-FenCarex at the Conserve Lake County Plant Sale on May 16.




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Carex and Associates of Three Sisters Springs 2015

A new report: Carex and Inventory of Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge 2015  is available from the author at  The previous 2014 report follows this 2025 brief update.

3 sister springs view n. June

Photo by Joyce Kleen USF&W Crystal River October 5, 2015.Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge (TTSWR) was entered by tour buses previously from Kings Bay Road from the north entry until this year when a new entrance and roadway were constructed across Cutler Blvd, now named Three Sisters Springs Trail on the east side during a bulldozing and  dredging for a tidal water treatment pond (Edmunds 2012). Visitors still can enter via the tour buses or ride the new Crystal River trolleys with several pick up stops in Crystal River. No car parking is allowed except for staff and researchers with USF&W Special Use Permits SUP. A gated guard station at the entry monitors visitors and researchers. Three Sisters Spring was opened to the public when manatee viewing season began on Nov. 15, 2015. Manatees were reported mating in the lagoon on Dec. 24, 2015. High tides were record 6′ Jan.17, 2016.









The serpentine basin for a new water treatment pond was dredged in 2015 on the east portion of TTSWR and some of the spoils were placed in the southeast end  an artificial lake dredged in the 1970’s. Formerly named Lake Lynda, it is now Lake Crystal. As a seed bank, that area is very interesting and has more than seeds, as the Jack-in-the-pulpit corms were in the forest understory. One plant had an albino spathe. Another was 3 feet tall and would have a corm larger than an baking potato tuber.

Rows of planted pine seedlings were removed by mowing and tilling, but existing trees were left,  mainly red cedar, Juniperus virginiana and tall cabbage palms, Sabal palmetto. Once a pristine gulf hydric forest into the 1960’s, the repeated attempts at development since has altered its natural return to hydric forest. Natural areas reproduce their former ecosystem from roots and seeds.

No plant inventory existed at Three Sisters Springs. The USFWS manage the Refuge and granted me permits to collect. I began a  working list of other plants from my 4 years of Carex field search that listed associates. Also, the plant inventory from Crystal River Parks and Preserves (Morin 2014) and Waccasassa Bay State Preserve (Abbott & Judd 2000) were consulted to form a check list to help document the TTSWR  species as they were identified. The WBSP inventory was updated to the newest nomenclature following the forthcoming edition of Gleason and Cronquist.

Most of the native plants used in and around the water treatment pond were not previously on the property. Three Sisters Treatment Wetland Conceptual Design (W471) was prepared for Southwest Florida Water Management District, March 27, 2012  by Wetland Solutions, Inc., Jones Edmunds.  The final 2015 report was sent to USFWS Jan 11, 2016. One error was found in  species list table and that was the pestiferous Brazilian Pepper Schinus terebinthifolia whose family name is Anacardiaceae. It also was misspelled …folius.

One person reported that error, Jim Solomon at Mobot. Thanks, Jim.

Other errors reported by Chris Davis, in Malvaceae, I misspelled genera Kosteletzkya,

and Abutilon. Thank you Chris. Do email Linda at if you spot an error.

Carex and associates of Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge

2014 Based on the Report by Linda Curtis, botanist, for USF&W.

In comparison of 2014 & 2015 aerial images, note the continuous hydric forest fringe along the tidal creek along Cutler Spur Boulevards. About 100 feet of forest and understory were removed to put in new entry.

Three Sisters Springs

Photo by Joyce Kleen-USFWS

(USFWS) is part of the Florida Gulf Coastal lowland, Crystal River, Kings Bay, Citrus County, Florida. Above image faces West with Cutler Spur Boulevard on the lower portion of the aerial photograph.

Above image: Formerly a dense hydric Gulf forest, the remaining fringes of vegetation around the springs, roadsides and the canal perimeter are regenerating by natural succession back to hydric forest. Lake Lynda in center is a dredged barrow.The forested fringe along Cutler Spur Blvd  has a varied understory of herbaceous plants and shrubs that included Carex species discovered in 2012. More Carex were found in 2014 and the listing of their associates initiated a partial on-site plant inventory. Voucher specimens of Carex were sent to herbaria at University of Florida-Tampa (USF), University of Florida-Gainesville (FLAS), and Florida State University-Tallahassee (FSU).

Carex and associates of Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida by Linda Curtis 2014

Report filed Dec 31, 2014 by Linda W. Curtis, USFWS contacts were Joyce Kleen,, and Ivan Vincente contact

Abstract: Seven Carex species grow at the Three Sisters Springs site in the headwaters of Crystal River, Kings Bay, Citrus County, Florida, a USFWS National Wildlife Refuge. Four of the seven Carex species grow in fringes remaining of coastal Gulf hydric hammock forest around the springs pool, roadside and canal borders and three grow in the large central ruderal area of tilled-over planted pines, an area groomed for restoration. An inventory of Carex associates of trees, understory shrubs, and herbaceous ground layer was begun, including the native trees and shrubs donated and planted by the Florida Native Plant Society, Citrus Chapter, in 2014. The existing native vegetation is regenerating, including seedlings of both woody and herbaceous native species but also some invasive and non-native plants.


The purpose of this report was to document Carex species and associated plants at Three Sisters Springs, a 57 acre formerly dense Gulf hydric hammock forest. Three Sisters Springs is one of three springs in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and the only one accessible by land (Fig. 1). The locked gate entry road on the northern boundary along King’s Bay Road is latitude N28 53.519 and longitude W82 35.469. The parking lot for tour bus drop-off is near the boardwalk. The southern boundary canal is at N28 53.290 and W82 35.298.

Cutler Spur Boulevard is the eastern border with a forested tidal creek along the road sidewalk on the southeast end of the navigational canal that feeds high tide water into the roadside ditch. The southern and western borders are canals dug in the 1970s and have re-vegetated limestone banks (Fig. 2)

To the west, Citrus County’s extensive coastal salt marshes are near sea level, whereas the inland Three Sisters Spring gulf hammock is 2–6 feet above the high tide elevation on limestone karst topography. Beaches were not formed as the waves are low energy and do not presently build-up deposits. The only nearby sand beach is at the end of Fort Island Trail and is maintained with imported sand. The Pleistocene coastal swamps along the gulf date from 10,000 to 1.6 million years, in age. The gulf waters rose and fell, alternately depositing and eroding sedimentary soils, and were largely deposited in the recent past when sea levels fell. Gulf waters are now rising due to global warming.

Underground spring water in Three Sisters Spring is moderate at about 72 F and travels 6 miles west to the salt marshes along the gulf where the temperature is usually near 60o in winter. The Three Sisters Springs inlet was natural, but was altered with canals in the 1970’s. Boulders at the inlet were removed and pipes inserted to restrict boats but allow kayaks and swimmers entry to view the manatees. Tourist visitations by land were limited to Special Use Vendors until November 2014 when one tour company began to manage shuttle-bus tours, restricting tourists to the boardwalk to prevent trampling. A future entry will be a bridge over Cutler Spur Blvd. and that street will be renamed.

The original vegetation of Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge was coastal hydric hammock forest. The site was cleared for development and only forested fringes grew around the springs and site perimeters, with a diverse understory of Carex and other herbs including a 30” tall Arisaema triphyllum, Jack-in-the-pulpit.

Mature non-native shrubs include Schinus terebinthifolia, (Brazilian pepper), Callestemon viminale, (bottlebrush), and Pyracantha coccinea, (firethorn) which escaped from plantings along the west canal boundary.

Native species grow along roadside creeks of both Cutler Spur Blvd. on the east, King’s Bay Drive on the north, and limestone cut banks of the dredged channels on the south and west (Fig. 2, map 1974). A pond barrow pit was dug for limestone, later filled in. The eight acre pit of dredged limestone, named Lake Lynda, is 40 ft deep and has native Typha domingensis, (southern cattail) and Cladium jamaicense, (sawgrass), along its shore and invasive  submersed Hydrilla verticillata (waterthyme) (Fig. 3. Map 1984).

The central ruderal areas had tilled row plantings of pine seedlings, but were tilled under in 2014 to prepare for a restoration planting of native trees and shrubs that were mostly hand dug into the limestone rock by Citrus County Florida Native Plant Society, (CCFNPS), later in 2014 (Table 3). Sedges Carex fissa, (hammock sedge), C. vexans, (Florida hammock sedge), and C. longii, (Long’s sedge) grow in the tilled ruderal area with other perennials and reseeding annuals like Ruellia caroliniensis, (wild petunia).

Vendor tour buses use a single entrance road from King’s Bay Road around Lake Lynda, a limestone quarry barrow, to the boardwalk where visitors walk around the springs to view manatees, sparing the natural vegetation and restoration plantings from trampling.


Access currently is a single entry road that is gated and locked. Public entry was only on specified days via shuttle buses. For this research, a Special Use Permit #12007-4156 was granted from US Fish and Wildlife Service at their headquarters in Crystal River NWR Complex. Upon each visit, USFWR magnetic signs were attached to my car and labeled yellow vests with SUP (Special User Permit) were worn. Old roads were traveled that were visible on the USDA Soil Survey Map of Citrus County (Fig. 3, Map 1984).

Species were photographed in the field with macro-lens. The camera used by photographer James Curtis was Canon EOS5D Mark II that recorded location with GPS Data Logger, a Wireless File Transmitter motorized base, and 2 Wintec G-Rays GPS units mounted on the camera hot shoe. Photos were printed with imbedded GPS data. Although the data is included on labels sent with pressed specimens to herbaria, some curators black out coordinates to prevent poaching of endangered species by collectors.

Carex species of the family Cyperaceae are grass-like and some form leafy tufts to dense clumps in the herb layer of forests and clearings. They were hand-combed to find triangular culms with tubular sheaths and seed heads with sac-like perigynia, unlike the round-stemmed grasses with split sheaths and no sacs. Other species are rhizomatous and have leafy tufts in rows. Variability in clump density of C. styloflexa (bent sedge) and rhizome length of C. chapmannii (Chapman’s sedge) suggests they may be conspecific.

The culms were kept in beakers of rainwater before they were scanned and microimaged. Digital images were sent to Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants at the University of South Florida (USF). Seven Carex species specimens with label data were sent in 2012 -2014 to University of Florida-Tampa (USF), University of Florida Herbarium-Gainesville (FLAS) and Florida State University-Tallahassee (FSU).


Three Sisters Spring did not have a site-specific plant inventory except for Carex (Table 1), therefore other inventories were consulted. The nearest site inventory in Citrus County was Crystal River State Preserve, compiled by Keith Morin, Park Biologist, and included more than 300 species including ten Carex discovered during research 2008- 2012 (Table 3). My research permit #002250812 to collect only Carex was granted by Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection and issued for five sites: Archaeological Museum State Park, Dixie Shores, Yoeman Park, Ecowalk, and Churchhouse Hammock.

The FDEP research permit in 2014 included other Crystal River Parks, Yulee Sugar Mill Runes, and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. The lobally imperiled G2 Carex paeninsulae, (peninsula sedge) was previously misidentified as C. godfreyi, (Godfrey’s sedge) and was collected in April 2008 from Churchhouse Hammock, and annotated by Curator Bruce Hansen (USF).

C. paeninsulae was collected in the Archaeological Museum State Park in April 2014. Species that grow in 6-20 planetary locations are G2 and G1 taxa are only in 1-5 populations, as determined by NatureServe, a status system. (

The next nearest inventory in Citrus County was Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, compiled by Stuart Marcus during 1982-83 which included 120 species listed with C. leptalea the only Carex. Later, C. gholsonii was discovered along the hydric forest along the Chassahowitzka River, west of the county park, in April, 1991 and Turtle Creek in Waccasassa Bay in Levy County, April, 1996 (Naczi, Bryson, Cochrane 2002).

Waccasassa Bay State Preserve (WBSP) in Levy County had more than 500 plants with five natural communities: tidal marsh, coastal hydric hammock, freshwater pools, basin (cypress) swamp, and mesic to scrubby flatwoods. Its coastal hydric forest hammocks were a mix of smaller communities that constituted, by quantitive analysis, one highly variable community (Abbot and Judd 2002). Nine Carex were listed in the Waccasassa Bay Preserve inventory and eleven species were collected from Crystal River Parks. Seven Carex were collected at Three Sisters Springs. Of the 15 total Carex species, six were in common to Three Sisters Springs and Crystal River Parks, both in Citrus County, and two in common with Waccasassa Bay in Levy County. Six of the nine Carex species at Waccasassa Bay State Preserve grew in shady hydric hammocks. Those in brighter clearings and borders were C. fissa var. aristata, (hammock sedge), C. godfreyi, (Godfrey’s sedge), and C. vexans, (Florida hammock sedge).

These sites were similar to the ruderal habitat of Three Sisters Springs, with associates of Andropogon sp. (bluestem grasses; (Poaceae), other sedges (Cyperaceae), rushes (Juncaceae), Erigeron vernus, (early fleabane; Asteraceae), Salvia lyrata, (lyreleaf sage; Lamiaceae) and Emilia fosbergii, (Florida tasselflower, Asteraceae).

TABLE 1. Carex of Three Sisters Springs  2012-14 Linda Curtis, Collector

Scientific name                             Common name                         Habitat
C. chapmanii Steud.                        Chapman’s Sedge            Wet  calcareous hammocks

C. gholsonii, Naczi & Cochrane     Gholson’s  Sedge             Wet clearings   

C. godfreyi Naczi                               Godfrey’s Sedge              Wet  calcareous hammocks

C. fissa Mack. var aristata Herm  Hammock Sedge              Wet  clearings 
C. leptalea Wahlenb                         Bristly Stalked Sedge      Swamps, wet hammocks

C. longii Mack                                     Long’s Sedge                     Clearings, roadsides

C. styloflexa Buckley                         Bent Sedge                        Moist or wet hammocks
C. vexans R. J. Herm                         Florida Hammock Sedge     Wet hammock

Fieldwork for Carex in Three Sisters Spring was conducted 2012 –2014 during sedge season in Central Florida beginning late March through June, although a few species re-bloom in autumn. Most Carex cannot be identified solely by leaves and the specimens must have mature seed heads and identified by a key in  Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida (2011) or Flora of North Am. vol 23: Cyperaceae (2002).


Carex of Crystal River Preserve State Parks 2008-14 Linda Curtis

Scientific name                              Common Name                            Dates collected

C. chapmanii Steud.                     Chapman’s Sedge                          4-20-08, 3-16-09

C. dasycarpa Muhl.                       Sandywoods Sedge         3-20-08,  4-4-10, 4-21-14

C. floridana Schwein.                   Blackedge Sedge                           4-20-08, 3-16-09

C. gholsonii Naczi & Cochrane    Gholson’s Sedge                                         3-16-09

C. godfreyi Naczi                             Godfrey’s Sedge                                        4-26-09

C. leptalea Wahlenb.                       Bristly stalked Sedge                               3-26-08

C. longii Mack.                                Long’s Sedge                                                3-26-09

C. lupuliformis Sartw. ex Dewey  False Hop Sedge                                           4-4-08

C. paeninsulae Naczi                       Peninsula Sedge                         4-24-08, 4-19-14

C. stipata Muhl.                               Awlfruit Sedge                                           4-21-08
C. vexans R. J. Herm.                     Florida Hammock Sedge                           4-24-09

The native Carex associates at Three Sisters Springs include both forest understory and open ruderal species. Trees around the Three Sisters Springs lagoon were similar wetland trees along the roadside and canal-side perimeters. An illustrated page of seven common trees with simple leaves was submitted for the USFW 2014 annual report and included Acer rubrum, (red maple), Prunus serotina, (black cherry), Liquidambar styraciflua, (sweetgum), Juniperus silicicola, (red cedar), Ulmus americana, (American elm), Magnolia virginiana, (sweet bay), and Fraxinus caroliniana, (pop ash) (Fig 4).

Also seen were Celtis laevigata, (sugarberry), Psychotria nervosa, (wild coffee), Quercus virginiana, (live oak), Q. laurifolia, (laurel oak), Q. nigra, (water oak), and Tilia americana var. heterophylla, (white basswood).

Gleditsia aquatica, (water locust), a thorny native tree was planted between the plank walk and the springs. Native shrubs include, Itea virginica, (sweetspire), Salix caroliniana, (Carolina willow), Cornus foemina, (swamp dogwood), Baccharis halimifolia, (saltbush), and Erythrina herbacea, (Cherokee bean). The forested perimeters along roadside wet ditches of Cutler Spur Blvd. and King’s Bay Dr. were rich with Carex and Arisaema triphyllum, (Jack-in-the-pulpit), and other understory species plus shrub Sambucus canadensis, (elderberry).

Central ruderal areas had scattered trees, mostly Sabal palmetto, (cabbage palm) and Juniperus virginiana, (red cedar), both evergreen. A potential witness tree, a stout red cedar along the entry road and between Lake Lynda and King’s Bay Road had a 10’ 8” circumference trunk, and its crown was visible on the USDA 1984 soils map (Fig. 3). The map revealed a central agricultural landscape with tillage rows and scattered trees. The federally endangered wood storks (Mycteria americana) frequent the site.

During the summer of 2014, many trees along the new plank walk had been de-branched by chain-saw or removed. New railed viewing stations and a manatee rescue gate were added. Some trees that were overhanging the pool on eroded, undercut limestone banks were removed for safety issues, both for visitors and manatees.

The donation of large planted canopy shade trees will alter the understory species that currently grow in bright sun areas, and shade-tolerant species such as ferns and some Carex will increase. Many of the species planted were already seeding in from surrounding parent trees ensuring hydric forest succession. The native understory plants of ferns, shrubs, and flowering herbs should flourish, unless the site is treated as an arboretum with mowed lawns. Vegetation skirts around trees in mowed areas preserves wildflowers.

The coastal Gulf hammock forest at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (HSWSP), South of Three Sisters Springs in Citrus County, had similar understory and three specimens collected were C. gholsonii, (Gholson’s sedge) C. godfreyi (Godfrey’s sedge) and C. longii (Long’s sedge).

Table 3. Restoration trees and shrubs planted 2014 at Three Sisters Springs by Citrus Co. by members of Citrus Chapter of Florida Native Plant Society (CCFNPS).


Acer rubrum – red maple

Acer negundo – box elder

Carpinus caroliniana – hornbeam
Carya aquatica – water hickory
Carya glabra – pignut hickory
Celtis laevigata – sugarberry
Fraxinus caroliniana – pop ash
Gleditsia aquatica – water locust
Ilex cassine – dahoon holly
Liquidambar styraciflua – sweet gum

Magnolia grandiflora-southern magnolia Quercus shumardii – Shumard’s oak
Quercus virginiana – Virginia live oak Sapindus saponaria -soapberry
Taxodium ascendens – bald cypress
Tilia heterophylla – basswood
Ulmus americana var. floridana – Florida elm

Shrubs and small trees

Euonymous americanus – strawberry bush

Viburnum obovatum – Walter’s Viburnum

Itea virginica – Virginia willow
Cornus foemina – swamp dogwood

C. asperifolia – roughleaf dogwood

Crataegus Marshalii – parsley haw

Chionanthus virginicus – fringe tree

Aesculus pavia – red buckeye

Hamamelis virginiana – witch hazel

Ptelea trifoliata – hop tree

Rhapidophyllum hystrix – needle palm

Sabal minor – blue stem palmetto

Hamelia patens – firebush

Forestiera ligustrina -upland swamp privet

Erythrina herbacea – coralbean

Salix caroliniana – Carolina shrub willow

Selecting the correct trees and shrubs for restoration are facilitated by knowledge of previous inventories for the designated area. Florida has 82 natural communities defined by the Florida Natural Areas Inventory. Google Earth images are also available in Florida Forever Projects.kmz.


Four of the seven Carex species at Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge grow in the shady understory of gulf coast hydric hammock forest remnants around the spring, along the shady roadsides with creeks, wet ditches and on the canal banks. Three Carex species grow in the cut-over disturbed bright sunlight clearings with other ruderal species, introduced and native. Plant inventories from similar gulf hammock forests in Citrus County and one in Levy County were compared and six of fifteen Carex species were in common. The associates of Carex noted in this research will provide a partial inventory that will benefit management and volunteers as an aid for plant identification. The native gulf hammock forest is regenerating and the future understory will support birds, butterflies and other wildlife in one of the most-visited tourist sites in Citrus County.

Abbot, J.R. and W. S. Judd, 2000. Floristic Inventory of the Waccasassa Bay State

Preserve Levy County, Florida. Rhodora, Vol 102, No. 912, pp 439-513 Ball, P. W., and A. A. Reznicek, eds. 2001. Flora of North America, vol. 23.

Cyperaceae. Oxyford University Press, Inc. New York, N.Y.

Curtis, L.W. 2012. Carex of Three Sisters Springs. Special Use Research report for U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service (USFWS), Crystal River and

Environmental Protection Agency 2012 MYWATERS Google Earth.
Federally recommended best practices for stream bank and lakeshore stabilization (FISRWG 1998: USD-FS 2001)

Florida Communities Trust (FCT) 2010. Three Sisters Springs project management plan. Drafted by: The City of Crystal River, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Southwest Florida Water Management District Florida Communities Trust (FCT) Project #08-088-FF8.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) 2010. Guide to the natural communities of Florida: Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, Fl.

U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service, 2013, Coastal Wildlife Conservation Initiative, Nature Coast Region Working Group.

Herrington, S.J. 2012. Three Sisters Springs Focal Area, Conceptual Design for Freshwater Restoration. Draft 1, The Nature Conservancy, Fl Chapter.

Morin, Robin 2014. Crystal River Preserve Plant Inventory. 3266 N. Sailboat Ave., Crystal River, Fl 34428

Naczi, R.F., Bryson, C. T., Cochrane T.S. 2002. Seven New Species and One New Combination in Carex (Cyperaceae) from North America. Novon: 12, No. 4, pp. 508- 532.

NatureServe, 2014. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life.

USDA, 1984 Map # 21, Soil Conservation Service, Soil Survey Citrus Co. USDA

Vince, S. W, S.R. Humphrey, and R. W. Simons, 1989, The Ecology of Hydric Hammocks: A community Profile, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Biological Report 85 (7.26)

Wunderlin, R. P., & B. F. Hansen, 2011, 3rd. ed. Guide to the plants of Florida. University Press of Florida, Gainesville.

Special thanks to Richard Wunderlin, Dick Hansen, Kent Perkins, Austin Mast

Figure 2. Below: Three Sisters Spring surrounded by Gulf Hammock Hydric Forest 1944, Highway 19 us far right, then Cutler Spur.

figure 1 Figure 3. Below: Canal and pond dredged in 1970’s preparing for development.


figure 2


Figure 4 below: Soils Map 1984 with dredged Lake Lynda.

image 5 figure 3


image 6 figure 3


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