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Saw Sedge

BSA Plant Guide

Saw Sedge (Gahnia Clarkei, Gahnia aspera, Gahnia grandis)

Family: Cyperaceae

Size: 1-3m

Description: Widespread perennial tussocky sedges with harsh sharp leaf edges, woody rhizomes that forms large clumps to 3m. Also known as cutting grass.

Habitat: Forms colonies in moist areas such as swamps, near streams and damp shady places

Foliage: Strap-shaped leaves with saw edged leaf margins are very sharp, shiny green both sides.

Flowers: Tall flower heads protrude above the tussock with cream flowers.

Fruit/seeds: Flowering spikes of tiny bright red/ brown seeds enclosed in tassels (G. grandis). Seeds turn black when mature. G. aspera has much larger red seeds on flower spikes

Distribution: NSW, VIC, QLD, TAS, TAS. There are many species of saw sedge that grow along the NSW coast.

Uses: Edible white leaf bases (woody in dryer areas). Edible tiny red seeds (G. grandis) pounded to produce flour then mixed with water to form cakes which are then baked. Large red seeds (G. aspera) are very hard and difficult to process. Leaves used as cutting implements. Dead leaves can be buffed up to make tinder. Large bundles of leaves were traditionally used to make floating pontoons and canoes. Leaves can be used to make cordage. Bundles of leaves make good thatching for natural shelters.

Gahnia aspera seed spikes - NSW
Gahnia clarkei seed small heads - NSW
Gahnia grandis - TAS
Gahnia edible leaf bases
Distribution of Gahnia in Australia