Carex grayi Carey

Gray's 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

Gray's sedge stands out from similar taxa with inflated perigynia in that the carpellate spikes are nearly perfectly spherical, and the perigynia radiating equally in all directions. Gray's sedge is typically found in rich or calcareous wetlands.

Habitat

Floodplain (river or stream floodplains), riverine (in rivers or streams), swamps

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
4–11 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 has a peduncle
Top spike
the uppermost spike contains only staminate flowers
Perigynium hairs
  • the perigynium has no hairs
  • the perigynium is hairy
Perigynium length
12.5–20 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 divided at the top into two teeth
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    2.5–4.8 mm
    Bumps on fruit
    there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Inflorescence length
    25–170 mm
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    25–42 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    7–35 mm
    Lowest spike width
    26–41 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    1.5–3 mm
    Perigynium beak orientation
    the beak of the perigynium is straight, and in line with the perigynium
    Perigynium beak serrations
    the perigynium beak has no serrations
    Perigynium beak teeth
    the perigynium beak is divided at the top into two teeth
    Perigynium beak teeth length
    Up to 1 mm
    Perigynium color
    green
    Perigynium cross-section
    the perigynium is relatively round in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    • the perigynium has no hairs
    • the perigynium is hairy
    Perigynium length
    12.5–20 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    16–25
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    8–12
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    8–12
    Perigynium orientation
    • the perigynia are angled outwards
    • 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 ovate (egg-shaped)
    Perigynium width
    4–8 mm
    Perigynium winged
    the perigynium has no wings
    Pollen- and seed-producing spikes
    some of the spikes produce perigynia
    Pollen-producing spike length
    5–65 mm
    Pollen-producing spike number
    1
    Pollen-producing spike peduncle length
    5–60 mm
    Pollen-producing spike width
    1–4 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
    • NA
    • the carpellate scale awn has tiny teeth
    Scale color
    green
    Scale length
    4–11 mm
    Scale tip
    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
    Stigma branching
    the stigmas have three branches
    Top spike
    the uppermost spike contains only staminate flowers
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene dimples
    the achene has no folds or dimples
    Achene length
    3.3–4.8 mm
    Achene width
    2.6–3.7 mm
    Style persistence
    the style stays on 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
    30–31
    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 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
    Ligule length
    2.5–6 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
    4–11 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    4–11 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • in rivers or streams
    • river or stream floodplains
    • swamps
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    25–110 cm
    Relative stem height
    • the main stem is equal to or shorter than the leaves
    • the main stem is taller than the leaves
    Spike internode length
    10–120 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
    • the stems grow singly or a few together (they may form diffuse colonies)

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
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

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

Massachusetts
rare (S-rank: S2), threatened (code: T)
Vermont
uncommon (S-rank: S3)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex intumescens:
carpellate spikes mostly short-ovoid, with mostly 1-12 ascending to spreading perigynia, and perigynium base convexly rounded (vs. C. grayi, with carpellate spikes spherical, with 8-35 perigynia radiating in all directions, and perigynium base cuneate).

Synonyms

  • Carex asa-grayi Bailey
  • Carex grayi Carey var. hispidula Gray
  • Carex intumescens Rudge var. globularis Gray

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

109.  Carex grayi Carey N

Gray’s sedge. Carex asa-grayi Bailey; C. grayi Carey var. hispidula Gray; C. intumescens Rudge var. globularis Gray • CT, MA, VT. Rich, mesic soils and calcareous seepage swamps, usually associated with riparian systems.