Carex cherokeensis

Cherokee sedge is a perennial member of the grass group of plants. It is a native plant to the southeastern and southcentral portion of North America. 

Both its common name and its species epithet are an honor to the Native American tribe, the Cherokees.

Photo courtesy iNaturalist user (c) Mike Farley, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). 

Physical description

This species grows to a height of 12” to 18” tall and 12” to 18” wide. While this is a flowering plant, its reproductive structure is rather inconspicuous. The portion of the plant holding the seeds is a dull, light brown color and the seeds themselves are brown, yellow or green. The plant has an evergreen appearance and 16” drooping, narrow, grass-like leaves. The plant has a spreading form and will colonize adjacent areas but it is not considered aggressive. It is a rather slow-growing and low maintenance, well-behaved plant.

Habitat

The Cherokee sedge prefers moist, loamy soils that have a rather high calcium content such as bottomland forests, mesic forests, and wet meadows. These plants are a wonderful ground cover and, as such, can be used to hide all sorts of yard problem areas as well as accenting showy sites.

This sedge forms attractive, slowly-spreading clumps (6-12” tall) of fine-textured, narrow, grass-like, deep green leaves. It is grown in the landscape for its foliage effect. Greenish-white flowers in spring are inconspicuous. Wheat-like seed spikes mature in autumn.

PHotos

All photos above courtesy iNaturalist users. Top left is photo 2179471, (c) Matthew Herron, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Bottom left is photo 6741183, (c) Alysa Joaquin, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), right is photo (c) Hubert Matthews, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC)

Uses

The primary use for this type of grass is as a ground cover. Therefore, it is often found as a stop for erosion in sloping terrain, so common here in the Chattanooga area.

Cherokee sedge is also used in more formal gardens as an inflection point when the eye proceeds from one textural area to another.

Protection Status

This species is not considered protected by any federal or international agency.

Interesting information

Some gardeners have indicated that the Cherokee sedge is a perfect plant for the backyard because it requires such low maintenance. Additionally, heaping on fertilizer and soil amendments tends to reduce the growth of this grass. After any minor maintenance in the early spring – light clipping of the leaves to maintain shape and a weak organic fertilizer – it's best to just leave this plant to itself.

This species is heat and draught resistant as well as deer resistant. It prefers medium moisture but can continue with lots of water or very little water for short periods. It does best in medium sunshine but will grow well in shade or full sun for short periods. 

The US Army has designated this plant as a facultative wetland species, meaning that it prefers a wetland habitat but will grow well in non-wetland areas.

About professor Charlie Belin

Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!


shop native plants

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Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

Written by Professor Charlie Belin

Observation © John P. Friel · some rights reserved

The Tulip Poplar (Lyriodendron tulipifera), or Yellow Poplar, is a species of tree found throughout the eastern portion of North America. The tulip poplar is a tall, deciduous tree that is hardy in our region of Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. It has a globular shape, grows to 60 to 90 feet tall (maximum of 150 feet) and 30 to 50 feet wide. It has large star-shaped leaves and flowers that have a yellow hue to them along with an orange throat. These trees need full sun, medium amounts of water, and require low maintenance. In addition to being an excellent shade tree for yards and gardens, it tolerates both deer and rabbits, clay soils, wet soils, and can even tolerate being near black walnut trees, something few other trees can tolerate. The tulip poplar is found in rich, moist soils, often near stream banks.

Uses: Perhaps the most frequent use of this species is as a shade tree in yards and gardens. Of particular interest is that this species will shade a gathering area at one residence in the summer and allow full sun in the winter when its leaves are no longer present. Because of the hydrostatic pressure created in the roots, this species is not recommended as a street tree. The wood of this tree has been used in the production of furniture, boats, toys, general lumber and the production of plywood.


Protection status: The tulip poplar has no protection status in North America.



Fun facts:

>While this tree is referred to as “poplar” or tulip, it has no relationship with either poplars or tulips. The tulip poplar is actually most closely related to the various magnolias in our area. 

>Native Americans used the trunks of tulip poplar in the making of dugout canoes. 

>This is the state tree of not only Tennessee, but also Kentucky and Indiana. 

>The genus name for this species comes from the Greek word “leirion,” meaning lily, and “dendron,” meaning tree, for the flowers. The species epithet, or second name, “tulipifera”, refers to the shape of the flowers, looking like a tulip. 

>The leaves of this species turn a brilliant, bright yellow in the autumn. It is nearly insect and disease free.



Charlie is a retired professor and Biological Oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia System for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.  

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!


shop for tuliptrees and many other native plants

We're currently providing free delivery over $300 or pick-up options. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: native plants

Come to Your Senses

March 23rd, 2020

Learning through exploratory play and utilization of the five major senses is proven to have the greatest benefit in younger students. This program has been developed to get the students outside and utilizing their senses. The lessons learned during the program are aligned with Hamilton County Standards for Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade.

Materials needed:

Crayons
Cardboard rectangle (something hard for backing)
Scissors
Paper

Prep work for the activities:

Using scissors and paper, have the students draw and cut out shapes that they know. The student will use these shapes in an outdoor activity later in the program. Make sure that the student is familiar with what makes each shape unique. 


Using either scissors, a box cutter or a knife, cut out a rectangle of cardboard approximately 5” x 8”. Make sure that you choose cardboard that is smooth on one side for easier writing and coloring. You might want to cut out a couple of these for backing so that later on you can demonstrate the activity while the student has their own supplies. 


Cut some pieces of paper that will fit on and cover most of the cardboard surface that you prepared.


Using the colors of your choice, remove the paper wrapping from a couple of crayons for a nature art activity.

ACTIVITY 1: shapes in nature

Using the shapes that your student cut out, go outside and use the shapes for a scavenger hunt. The student will take one shape at a time and look for something in nature that has the same shape.


Example: for a circle, the student might find a round rock.

Example: for a heart, the student might find a heart-shaped leaf.

ACTIVITY II: i spy

I Spy is a wonderful game to play in nature that focuses on the student’s sense of sight. During a nature walk, the leader will notice shapes, colors, shelters, or anything else that stands out and will be easy for the students to identify. The leader will pick one item and say “I spy with my little eye something that is purple.” The student will then look for features in nature with the color purple and guess what the leader is looking for in an answer. Spring is a great time of year to focus on colors, which also fits into the educational standards. There are many plants that are blooming and leaves that are budding with bright and vibrant colors that students will be able to identify.

ACTIVITY III: a fist full of sounds

This is a wonderful little activity to utilize the sense of hearing. Find a nice spot outside to sit down with your student. Begin the activity by asking them how many fingers that they have on one hand. Then ask the student to start with their right hand raised above their head with all of the fingers spread out. Tell them to close their eyes and not make any sounds for 20 seconds. During that time, have them pull down one of their fingers each time they hear a new sound. Once they hear 5 sounds, they will be making a fist. Discuss what they heard and what might be responsible for those noises in nature.

Activity IV: Leaf rubbing

Walk around your yard or nearby park and have the student look for their favorite leaf. It is best for this activity if they will choose a leaf that is dead and already on the ground. 


Using the cardboard, piece of paper and crayon, the student will use the following steps to create their very own leaf rubbing.


  1. Feel both sides of the leaf for texture. 

  2. Place the leaf, with the rough side facing up, on top of the cardboard.

  3. Place the piece of paper on top of the leaf (at this point the leaf should be between the cardboard and the paper).

  4. Hold the paper down firmly so that the leaf and the paper won’t easily move.

  5. Use the peeled crayon and rub back and forth over the leaf using the broad side of the crayon.

  6. If done correctly, the leaf shape and veins will be transposed on the paper.

ACTIVITY v: smells in nature

Having freedom to explore during an outdoor program is essential in allowing students/children to feel ownership over what they are learning. During this activity, allow the student to explore without any interference from adults. Have them find and choose 5 different smells that they are interested in. Once they discover the smells, help them understand why those smells are important in nature. 


Example: Some flowers have scents that help them attract pollinators.

Example: Some animals use scents to help them attract other animals (mates).


Taste:

We don’t suggest using the sense of taste in nature (especially right now!), but it is always fun to incorporate a picnic lunch as a part of the program. 


Just remember that time outside is not only healthy for the children involved in the programming, but also helps stimulate the type of learning that they will remember for a lifetime. 


Did you use this lesson at home?

Please share your photos and thoughts from today’s lesson with us on our Facebook page or directly via email at [email protected]; we’d love to share them with our community. 


We also need your financial support more than ever. While our on-site field trips (and the revenue associated with them) have stopped, our work breeding the critically endangered American red wolf and caring for the many other non-releasable animals will not stop. We suggest a $5 donation if you found this lesson useful. 


Now more than ever, your continued support is critical to our work, which continues even in a global crisis. Help us weather the storm and continue caring for our animals, native plants and property.

Posted by Corey Hagen  | Category: education

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