Carex foenea Willd.

straw 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

Very similar to silvery-flowered sedge (Carex argyrantha), straw sedge differs in having curved, rather than straight and parallel veins on the perigynia. Straw sedge typically has fewer spikes per inflorescence (3 - 7) whereas silvery-flowered sedge typically has more than 7 spikes per inflorescence.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), cliffs, balds, or ledges, meadows and fields, woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
2–4 mm
Lowest bract sheath
the lowest bract has no sheath (or a very short sheath up to four millimeters in length)
Spike on stalk
the lowest spike on the plant is not borne on a peduncle
Top spike
the uppermost spike contains both staminate and carpellate flowers, with the staminate flowers located below the carpellate flowers
Perigynium hairs
the perigynium has no hairs
Perigynium length
3.3–5 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 divided at the top into two teeth
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bumps on fruit
    there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Inflorescence length
    15–80 mm
    Length of scale
    the scale is nearly as long as, or longer than, the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    7–25 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    0 mm
    Lowest spike width
    5–7 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak orientation
    the beak of the perigynium is straight, and in line with the perigynium
    Perigynium beak serrations
    the perigynium beak has tiny serrations along the edges
    Perigynium beak teeth
    the perigynium beak is divided at the top into two teeth
    Perigynium color
    • brown
    • green
    Perigynium cross-section
    the perigynium is planoconvex (flat on one surface and rounded on the other) in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    the perigynium has no hairs
    Perigynium length
    3.3–5 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    4–17
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    4–9
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    0–8
    Perigynium orientation
    the perigynia are oriented vertically or pressed against the axis or adjacent perigynia
    Perigynium puffy
    the achene is tightly enclosed by the perigynium
    Perigynium shape
    the perigynium body is ovate (egg-shaped)
    Perigynium width
    1.5–2.5 mm
    Perigynium winged
    the perigynium has wings on it
    Pollen- and seed-producing spikes
    some of the spikes produce perigynia
    Pollen-producing spike length
    0 mm
    Pollen-producing spike number
    0
    Pollen-producing spike peduncle length
    0 mm
    Pollen-producing spike width
    0 mm
    Scale awn
    The carpellate scale does not have an awn (it may have a short point)
    Scale awn texture
    NA
    Scale color
    • brown
    • green
    • other
    • red-brown
    Scale length
    4–5 mm
    Scale tip
    • the carpellate scale tip is acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    • the carpellate scale tip is acute (has a sharp point)
    Spike on stalk
    the lowest spike on the plant is not borne on a peduncle
    Spike orientation
    the spikes are bent downwards or droop downwards
    Spikes per stem
    2-15
    Staminate scale tip
    the staminate scale tip is acuminate (tapered to a narrow 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
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene dimples
    the achene has no folds or dimples
    Achene length
    1.3–2.1 mm
    Achene width
    1.2–1.7 mm
    Style persistence
    the style falls off the mature achenes
  • Growth form
    Rhizomes
    there are no rhizomes, or the rhizomes are very short
  • Leaves
    Leaf arrangement
    the leaves are mostly produced higher up on the plant
    Leaf blade cross-section
    The leaf blade is folded lengthwise, with one prominent midvien
    Leaf blade length to width ratio
    40–75
    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
    the top edge of the leaf sheath has papillae on it
    Leaf sheath color
    the leaf sheath has no pink, red or purple tinting
    Leaf sheath dots
    there are white dots on the green tissues of 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
    Ligule length
    2–3 mm
    Lowest bract sheath
    the lowest bract has no sheath (or a very short sheath up to four millimeters in length)
    Lowest leaf blade width
    2–4 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    2–4 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • woodlands
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    20–120 cm
    Relative stem height
    the main stem is taller than the leaves
    Spike internode length
    5–25 mm
    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

Occurs only in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: UPL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Connecticut
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), special concern (code: SC)
Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)
Vermont
rare (S-rank: S2), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex argyrantha:
perigynia granular-papillose, with usually 5-8 +/- parallel veins on the adaxial surface, and carpellate scales white-green (vs. C. foenea, with perigynia smooth, without veins or with 4-8 curving veins on the adaxial surface, and carpellate scales red-brown to green or gold-brown).
Carex praticola:
beak of perigynium cylindric and unwinged in the apical 0.4-1 mm, and achenes 0.8-1.1 mm wide (vs. C. foenea, with beak of perigynium flat, winged, and minutely serrulate at the apex, and achenes 1.2-1.6 mm wide).

Synonyms

  • Carex aenea Fern.

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

46.  Carex foenea Willd. N

straw sedge. Carex aenea Fern. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Woodlands, cliffs, sandy fields, and open, disturbed soil.