Our Own Pokuland

The shore of Lake Arbi has its very own small Pokuland. Edgar Valter – a well-known Estonian writer and artist, was inspired by the tufts of these special plants – sedges – to create the creatures called Pokus. 

Poku talking to a frog. A drawing by Edgar Valter. Gift of Pokumaa foundation to Elva Pokuland.

 

Sedges (Carex) are a plant genus from the Cyperaceae family. There are at least 69 different sedge species in Estonia. Not all sedges form tufts. The most well-known tuft-forming species is the lesser tufted sedge; however, species such as the tufted sedge and fibrous tussock-sedge can also form tufts. A tuft forms as new shoots grow densely around the mother plant and the plant parts from the previous years also remain. Every year the plant re-grows its above-ground parts, and this is how the tufts can even grow up to a meter in height, and get around 50 years of age. 

Lesser tufted sedge. Photo: AdobeStock.

Pokus can be found mainly in wet habitats, such as the shores of water bodies, wet grasslands, bogs and ditches. At Pokuland near Arbi, we can mostly find the lesser tufted sedge, but around the lake, you can also see the common sedge, tufted sedge, cyperus sedge, bottle sedge and slender tufted sedge.

The sedges are rather peculiar plants, which were already studied in ancient Greece. There is even a whole branch of science dedicated to the study of sedges – caricology. There are about 2000 species of sedges in the world, but this number can change as the sedges are more thoroughly studied. Sedges are one of the largest plant genera, and they can be found in almost every ecosystem all over the world. Sedges are very unique plants. 

Flowers of the common sedge. Photo: AdobeStock.

At first glance, it may seem that the sedges do not have flowers, but actually, they do, just tiny ones. Sedges are not often used by humans, but they are significant in nature; for example, the star sedge is able to absorb heavy metals from the surroundings and thus clean the environment. 

Authors: Iris Reinula, Marianne Kaldra

Main photo: Ragnar Vutt