Carex aurea Nutt.

golden-fruited sedge

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Golden-fruited sedge is unique in having nearly spherical, bright orange perigynia, but the color does not show until the perigynia are fully mature and ready to be shed. The lowest bract of the carpellate spikes has a prolonged closed sheath usually longer than 4mm. This species is listed as threatened in New Hampshire.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), ridges or ledges, shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
1.4–3 mm
Lowest bract sheath
the lowest bract has a sheath longer than four millimeters
Spike on stalk
the lowest spike on the plant has a peduncle
Top spike
  • the uppermost spike contains both staminate and carpellate flowers, with the staminate flowers located below the carpellate flowers
  • the uppermost spike contains only staminate flowers
Perigynium hairs
the perigynium has no hairs
Perigynium length
2.3–3.2 mm
Leaf sheath color
the leaf sheath has no pink, red or purple tinting
Leaf blade texture
the leaf blade is smooth and hairless, or rough and sandpapery
Perigynium beak teeth
the perigynium beak is not divided at the tip into two teeth, or the teeth are very tiny
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bumps on fruit
    • the perigynium surface has papillae on it
    • there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Distance between perigynia
    0.5–1.5 mm
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    4–30 mm
    Lowest spike width
    3–5 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has no beak, or an extremely short beak
    Perigynium beak length
    0–0.4 mm
    Perigynium beak orientation
    • NA
    • the beak of the perigynium is straight, and in line with the perigynium
    Perigynium beak serrations
    • NA
    • the perigynium beak has no serrations
    Perigynium beak teeth
    the perigynium beak is not divided at the tip into two teeth, or the teeth are very tiny
    Perigynium beak teeth length
    0 mm
    Perigynium color
    • orange to orange-brown
    • yellow
    Perigynium cross-section
    • the perigynium is biconvex (convexly rounded on both sides, like a lens) in cross-section
    • the perigynium is relatively round in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    the perigynium has no hairs
    Perigynium length
    2.3–3.2 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    12–20
    Perigynium nerve texture
    • NA
    • the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    6–10
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    6–10
    Perigynium orientation
    the perigynia are angled outwards
    Perigynium puffy
    the perigynium is inflated (there is space between the perigynium and the achene)
    Perigynium shape
    • the perigynium body is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the perigynium body is orbicular (roughly circular, as wide as long)
    Perigynium width
    1.2–1.8 mm
    Perigynium winged
    the perigynium has no wings
    Pollen- and seed-producing spikes
    some of the spikes produce perigynia
    Pollen-producing spike length
    3–15 mm
    Pollen-producing spike number
    0–1
    Pollen-producing spike peduncle length
    At least 0 mm
    Pollen-producing spike width
    0.9–2 mm
    Scale awn
    The carpellate scale does not have an awn (it may have a short point)
    Scale awn texture
    NA
    Scale color
    brown
    Scale length
    1.2–2.5 mm
    Scale tip
    • the carpellate scale tip is acute (has a sharp point)
    • the carpellate scale tip is obtuse (has a blunt point)
    Spike on stalk
    the lowest spike on the plant has a peduncle
    Spike orientation
    the spikes are oriented vertically or pressed against the axis
    Spikes per stem
    2-15
    Staminate scale tip
    • the staminate scale tip is acute (has a sharp point)
    • the staminate scale tip is obtuse (has a blunt point)
    Stigma branching
    the stigmas have two branches
    Top spike
    • the uppermost spike contains both staminate and carpellate flowers, with the staminate flowers located below the carpellate flowers
    • the uppermost spike contains only staminate flowers
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene dimples
    the achene has no folds or dimples
    Achene length
    1.4–1.8 mm
    Achene width
    1–1.5 mm
    Style persistence
    the style falls off the mature achenes
  • Growth form
    Rhizomes
    there are long rhizomes present
  • Leaves
    Leaf arrangement
    the leaves are all produced from the base of the plant
    Leaf blade cross-section
    The leaf blade is folded lengthwise, with one prominent midvien
    Leaf blade length to width ratio
    21–100
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is smooth and hairless, or rough and sandpapery
    Leaf bumps
    the upper surface of the leaf blade does not have papillae
    Leaf sheath bumps
    there are no papillae at the top edge of the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath color
    the leaf sheath has no pink, red or purple tinting
    Leaf sheath dots
    there are no dots on the leaf sheathes
    Leaf sheath folds
    there are no corrugations on the leaf sheath
    Leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth, and has no hairs
    Lowest bract sheath
    the lowest bract has a sheath longer than four millimeters
    Lowest leaf blade width
    1.4–3 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    1.4–3 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • ridges or ledges
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    5–40 cm
    Relative stem height
    the main stem is equal to or shorter than the leaves
    Stem cross-section
    the main stem is roughly triangular in cross-section
    Stem spacing
    the stems grow close together in compact clusters or tufts

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
New Hampshire
rare (S-rank: S2), threatened (code: T)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex garberi:
perigynia glaucous-white and densely papillose, lateral spikes densely flowered with internodes in the middle portion 0.2-0.7 mm long, and uppermost spike frequently gynecandrous (vs. C. aurea, with perigynia becoming gold-orange and smooth or minutely papillose, lateral spikes relatively more sparsely flowered with internodes in the middle portion mostly 0.7-1.5 mm long, and uppermost spikes frequently entirely staminate).

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

15.  Carex aurea Nutt. N

golden-fruited sedge. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Cobble pavement and seepy outrcrop river shorelines, wet ledges, and borrow pits, in high-pH bedrock and/or till regions.