Carex gracillima Schwein.

graceful 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

Graceful sedge inhabits moist to wet forests, meadows and swamp edges and is common in New England. It is indeed graceful, particularly the spikes, drooping at maturity, with the glabrous perigynia (sacs enclosing the fruits) arranged like beads along them.

Habitat

Forests, meadows and fields, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
3–9 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
Perigynium hairs
the perigynium has no hairs
Perigynium length
2–3.7 mm
Leaf sheath color
the leaf sheath is tinted pink, red or purple
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
    there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    10–70 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    Up to 40 mm
    Lowest spike width
    2–3.5 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has no beak, or an extremely short beak
    Perigynium beak length
    0 mm
    Perigynium beak orientation
    NA
    Perigynium beak serrations
    NA
    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
    green
    Perigynium cross-section
    • the perigynium is relatively round in cross-section
    • the perigynium is trigonous (triangular) in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    the perigynium has no hairs
    Perigynium length
    2–3.7 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    9–17
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    4–8
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    4–8
    Perigynium orientation
    the perigynia are oriented vertically or pressed against the axis or adjacent perigynia
    Perigynium puffy
    the perigynium is inflated (there is space between the perigynium and the achene)
    Perigynium shape
    • the perigynium body is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the perigynium body is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    • the perigynium body is ovate (egg-shaped)
    Perigynium width
    1.3–1.6 mm
    Perigynium winged
    the perigynium has no wings
    Pollen- and seed-producing spikes
    some of the spikes produce perigynia
    Pollen-producing spike length
    0 mm
    Pollen-producing spike number
    0–1
    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)
    • the carpellate scale has an awn on it
    Scale awn texture
    • the carpellate scale awn does not have teeth (it may or may not have hairs)
    • the carpellate scale awn has tiny teeth
    Scale color
    • green
    • white or translucent
    Scale tip
    • the carpellate scale tip is acute (has a sharp point)
    • the carpellate scale tip is rounded to retuse (blunt or rounded, with a notch at the tip)
    Spike on stalk
    the lowest spike on the plant has 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 obtuse (has a blunt point)
    • the staminate scale tip is rounded to retuse (blunt or rounded, with a notch at the tip)
    Stigma branching
    the stigmas have three 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
    1.2–2.6 mm
    Achene width
    1–1.2 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 flat or M-shaped, with two prominent side-veins
    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 is tinted pink, red or purple
    Leaf sheath dots
    there are red dots on the translucent 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
    Lowest bract sheath
    the lowest bract has a sheath longer than four millimeters
    Lowest leaf blade width
    3–9 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    3–9 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • forests
    • meadows or fields
    • swamps
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    20–90 cm
    Relative stem height
    the main stem is taller 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 non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

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)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex aestivalis:
leaves with pubescent sheaths and blades 1.5-3 mm wide (vs. C. gracillima, with leaves with glabrous sheaths and blades 3-9 mm wide).
Carex formosa:
lateral spikes gynecandrous and perigynia 3.5-5 mm long (vs. C. gracillima, with lateral spikes unisexual, with only perigynia, and perigynia 2-3.7 mm long).

Synonyms

  • Carex gracillima var. macerrima Fern. & Wieg.

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

92.  Carex gracillima Schwein. N

graceful sedge. Carex gracillima Schwein. var. macerrima Fern. & Wieg. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Mesic to hydric forests, margins of swamps, meadows.

92×161. Carex gracillima × Carex virescens This very rare sedge hybrid is known from CT. It generally resembles Carex virescens in the narrow and elongate spikes and pubescent leaf blades. However, the perigynia are very sparsely pubescent (i.e., the hairs are easily missed without careful examination), some leaf blades are glabrous or nearly so, and the two lateral veins of the leaf blades are more prominent than the midvein on the adaxial surface.