The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Red Sedge

Scientific Names

Red Sedge

  • Carex arenaria L.
  • Sedge family

Common Names

  • German sarsaparilla
  • Red couchgrass
  • Sand sedge
  • Sea sedge

Back to Top

Parts Usually Used

Rootstock and roots
Back to Top

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Red sedge is a small, perennial herb; the creeping rootstock grows to lengths of 30 feet but is very thin. It produces stiff, grooved, triangular flower stalks sheathed with linear leaves which separate from the stalk near the bottom or at various points along its length. Small terminal spikes of tiny, green, inconspicuous flowers appear during May to June.
Back to Top

Where Found

Grows on riverbanks, wet embankments, shorelines, and other sandy soils from France to northern Europe.
Back to Top

Medicinal Properties

Diaphoretic, diuretic
Back to Top

Biochemical Information

Silicic acid
Back to Top

Legends, Myths and Stories

A different variety of sedge (C. ex-siccata) or Tall swamp sedge, was used by Native Americans to make very fine baskets. The root of the sedge is used. The Native American name: Matso-zump. The root is buried in still warm ashes, with water added. This makes a fine black.

Also root baskets are made from roots of a sedge (C. mendocinoensis), Pomo name, “Kahoom”, or water-gift. These long roots sometimes reach 5 or 6 feet in length. They are soaked overnight in water, and the weaver peels off the bark or outer skin and rolls it in small coils. The remaining root can be split into many strands, used as “Boms” for foundation. There are sedges, called blackroot sedge, which have a central section, coal-black, which color can be deepened by burying in manure of in blue mud.

Nebraska sedge (C. nebraskensis), Cut-your-finger, “So-yo-toi-yis”, a favorite food of buffalo, is tied around the horns of the buffalo head in the Sun Dance.
Back to Top


The root has sometimes been used for gastro-intestinal catarrh, colic, chronic constipation, and for coughs and hoarseness. In mild cases of tuberculosis, the rootstock’s silicic acid content may be useful in stabilizing scarred tissue. For various skin problems, take red sedge as a diaphoretic tea.
Back to Top

Formulas or Dosages

Decoction: boil 2 tbsp. rootstock and roots in 1 cup hot water. Take 1 cup per day, warm.

Cold extract: soak 2 tsp. rootstock and roots in 1 cup cold water for 8 hours. Take 1 cup per day.
Back to Top


Do not use when acute kidney inflammation is present.
Back to Top


Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Back to Top