Saw-sedges (Gahnia spp.), which belong in the sedge family (Cyperaceae), are so named because they have tiny serrations on the edges of the leaves (as well as on the lower surface for many species). These act like teeth of a saw and can cut into skin very easily. There are approximately 40 species of Saw-sedges, distributed from Asia through the Australasian region and into the Pacific. Of these 22 are found in Australia, 20 are endemic (only found here). They are found across a number of habitats, often in damper areas.
In NSW, Red-fruited Saw-sedge is predominantly found along the coastal plain but can also occur in the tablelands. Outside of NSW, it also grows in Qld, Victoria and South Australia. It is one of the more common Saw-sedges in Sydney and is particularly common in damps sandy areas such as swamps, although it can be found in drier sites on hillsides.
Red-fruited Saw-sedge is a large grass-like plant growing as a tussock, up to 3m high. The leaves can be up to 2m long, and these arise off a stem (or culm) which can also be 1-2m long. The flowers of Saw-sedges, like many sedges, are small and greatly reduced: they lack petals or sepals, but are enclosed in a number of small bracts called glumes. Red-fruit Saw-sedge has many flowers arranged in a very large multi-branched spray called a panicle which rises above the leaves. It flowers mostly from spring to summer, but is nevertheless conspicuous at this time of year because the fruiting or spent inflorescences are still very visible, as they are for months after flowering. When ripe, the small red seeds are quite visible.
Where can the Red-fruit Saw-sedge be seen in the Parklands?
In the Parklands, Red-fruited Saw-sedge is most notable in the Lachlan Swamp paperbark forest, where it is the dominant plant in the understorey.