Flat Sedge

Latin name: Blysmus compressus

Family: Cyperaceae

Flat sedge is a rhizomatous perennial, which can mostly easily be spotted when flowering or fruiting (June to August). If wanting to get to grips with the identification of this species joining a local naturalists group might be for you. There are a number of Natural History Societies, Field Societies and Conservation Groups in and around the YDNP who run field meetings throughout the summer. This is a great way to learn from more experienced naturalists while enjoying some stunning scenery often off the beaten track.

Nationally flat sedge is mainly found in northern England, East Anglia and the West Midlands down to Dorset. The Yorkshire Dales National Park coincides with one of its core areas in the country. There are 67 known localities for it in the YDNP. Most of these coincide with the limestone country in South of the Park, in particular where there are calcareous flushes and calcareous stream borders which are prone to flooding.

In 2011, experienced local naturalists and YDNPA surveyors, teamed up with the Botanical Society the British Isles (BSBI), to contribute towards their Threatened Plants Project nationally. We were delighted to find this species alive and well on a number of sites in the Dales and spotted some previously unrecorded sites too. This survey work will continue as part of our on-going wildlife conservation work to implement the Local Biodiversity Action Plan.

At risk?

The population of this species has been declining in the UK since before 1930. Much of the decline has been due to drainage, the loss of unimproved damp grasslands, falling water-tables, eutrophication and the cessation of grazing. In addition, its habitat is vulnerable to trampling, by livestock seeking-out water on a hot day, and by people or vehicles where these habitats cross footpaths or tracks. Its status on the Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain (2005) is Vulnerable. It is a UKBAP priority species, in the BSBI's National Threatened Plants Project and is a Local BAP species in Nature in the Dales: 2020 Vision.

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Wharfedale in Yorkshire is a valley favoured by nature and enriched by romance. From 'Wharfedale' by Ella Pontefract & Marie Hartley

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