New Zealand Sedges

(Carex albula, Carex buchananii, Carex flagellifera and Carex testacea)
Images L-R: New Zealand sedge plant, © Andrew Crane;
Carex flagellifera with seedheads, © Tim Rudman.


What are New Zealand sedges?

  • New Zealand sedges are pasture and environmental weeds.
  • Four species of introduced New Zealand sedges are declared weeds under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999: New Zealand hair sedge C. albula, leather leaf sedge C. buchananii, New Zealand sedge C. flagellifera, and New Zealand sedge C. testacea. These sedges are similar in appearance and weediness, and are dealt with together in this guide.
  • The importation, sale and distribution of New Zealand sedges are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify New Zealand sedges

  • All four species of New Zealand sedges are perennial (long-lived) grass-like herbs growing to 1.5 m high. The grass-like leaves emerge from the base of the plant and are often shiny, while the flowers occur in cylindrical spikes. Seeds of New Zealand sedge can germinate at any time, and plants do not flower until two years old.
  • There are slight differences in the appearance of the four declared species of New Zealand sedge. New Zealand hair sedge C. albula has very fine, drooping whitish leaves that curl at the tips, forms very dense clumps, and can grow to 60 cm high. Flowering stems are shorter than the leaves. Leather leaf sedge C. buchananii is often reddish brown in colour and grows to 50 cm high. C. flagellifera has long prostrate flowering stems which can grow to 1.8 m and leaves in dense tufts to 75 cm long. C. testacea has flowering stems to 3 m long, trailing on the ground and leaves to 60 cm long.
  • New Zealand sedges can be difficult to identify and to distinguish from native sedges. If you need assistance in identifying a plant which may be a New Zealand sedge, contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 for help.

New Zealand sedges in Tasmania

  • The distribution of New Zealand hair sedge C. albula in Tasmania is limited to the area around Hobart. It has been recorded in Tasmania as an amenity planting and also appears in the nursery trade from time to time as 'Frosty curls' or 'Frosted curls'. New Zealand hair sedge C. albula can tolerate dry conditions better than most sedges, and like the other New Zealand sedges it competes aggressively with desirable plants, forming dense infestations, reducing pasture productivity and altering natural ecosystems.
  • New Zealand sedge C. flagellifera has been recorded at a number of sites in the Huon Valley. Populations occur in disturbed sites such as roadsides and an abandoned quarry, and several infestations have established in native vegetation. New Zealand sedge C. flagellifera is a potentially serious environmental weed in Tasmania.
  • New Zealand sedge C. testacea in Tasmania was recorded around Hobart, although all populations have been eradicated.
  • There are no known leather leaf sedge C. buchananii populations in Tasmania.

What is the legal status of New Zealand sedges in your area?

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with New Zealand sedges are laid out in the four respective New Zealand sedge Statutory Weed Management Plans, (see links below).

Use Table 1 (Zone A municipalities) in the Statutory Weed Management Plans to find out whether these weeds occur in your municipality.

Detailed management and control guidelines for New Zealand sedges can be found in the New Zealand Sedge Control Guide. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

What you need to do

If you locate New Zealand sedges anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find plants that you think could be New Zealand sedges, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report these weeds.

See also
Statutory Management Plan for New Zealand Hair Sedge - Carex albula
Statutory Management Plan for New Zealand Sedge - Carex flagellifera
Statutory Management Plan for New Zealand Sedge - Carex testacea
Statutory Management Plan for New Zealand Leather Leaf Sedge - Carex buchananii
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

New Zealand Sedge Control Guide

Spread of New Zealand sedges

  • Spread of New Zealand sedge is by seed and via rhizomes (underground stems).
  • Spread can occur during road works, slashing and track construction and maintenance.
  • Distribution as an ornamental is also significant, although it is not sold regularly in Tasmania, it is occasionally reported in the nursery trade.

Physical removal

  • Isolated plants can be removed by hand pulling or digging.
  • Ensure that all rhizome material is removed to avoid spreading rhizome fragments. Any seed head material should be bagged and removed.
  • Avoid slashing New Zealand sedges as this can spread seed and worsen an infestation.

Herbicides for New Zealand Sedge Control

  • For information on chemical control options for New Zealand sedges contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777.

    Important Disclaimer

    To the extent permitted by law, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using information or material (in part or in whole) contained on this website.