Sedges and Grasses of the Cook Inlet Coast

A small savannah sparrow standing on a tufted plant.
Savannah sparrow on cow parsnip.

NPS Photo/A. Jones

Biological Diversity is Key

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve’s coastal areas provide an ecosystem full of nutrient-rich plants that support a biological diversity including Alaska brown bears, other salt marsh mammals, and shorebirds. A coastal brown bear’s diet will shift with seasons. As food sources become available, they are found feeding on sedges, berries, and other herbaceous plants.


Sedges (Carex spp.) are one of the most diverse groups of plants in Alaska. They are extremely adaptable and can be found in both wet and dry environments. They are a dominant plant in many wetland ecosystems, such as coastal salt marshes, and can play an important role in food webs, nutrient cycles, and providing habitat. Identifying sedges to species can be extremely difficult, especially if a bear gets to them first, as it requires detailed examination of flower and fruit structures. The stem is a good identifier in determining a sedge.

Sedges have edges and rushes are round. Grasses are hollow straight to the ground! A sedge stem is triangular and solid, grass stems are generally hollow and round, and rush stems are solid and round.
A stand of tall pink flowers and a wooden cabin behind

Read why Lake Clark area is special for its diversity of flowers, plants, trees, and lichen in a relatively small area.

a hand reaches to pick a blueberry off a bush
Subsistence: Plant Harvesting

Harvest more knowledge on traditional uses of local plants.

Aerial view of a coastal bay with snow-capped mountains rising from the water's edge.
Coastal Salt Marshes

What makes a salt marsh special? Join NPS scientists from the Southwest Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Network to learn more.

Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Last updated: December 10, 2020