Carex houghtoniana Torr. ex Dewey

Houghton'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

Houghton's sedge is a sedge of disturbed fields, roadsides and logged forests, that responds strongly to fire or other disturbances, and it may die out after a few years if the disturbance is not repeated.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forests, meadows and fields, ridges or ledges

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
2.8–8.5 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 is hairy
Perigynium length
4.5–6.5 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
    Bumps on fruit
    there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Inflorescence length
    45–230 mm
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    10–40 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    1.2–2 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
    0.5–0.8 mm
    Perigynium color
    • brown
    • green
    Perigynium cross-section
    • the perigynium is relatively round in cross-section
    • the perigynium is trigonous (triangular) in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    the perigynium is hairy
    Perigynium length
    4.5–6.5 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    16–22
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    8–11
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    8–11
    Perigynium orientation
    • the perigynia are angled outwards
    • 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 elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the perigynium body is ovate (egg-shaped)
    Perigynium width
    2–2.9 mm
    Perigynium winged
    the perigynium has no wings
    Pollen- and seed-producing spikes
    some of the spikes produce perigynia
    Pollen-producing spike length
    20–40 mm
    Pollen-producing spike number
    1–3
    Pollen-producing spike peduncle length
    8–90 mm
    Scale awn
    The carpellate scale does not have an awn (it may have a short point)
    Scale awn texture
    NA
    Scale color
    • purple to black
    • red-brown
    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 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 three branches
    Top spike
    the uppermost spike contains only staminate flowers
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene dimples
    the achene has no folds or dimples
    Style persistence
    the style falls off the mature achenes
  • Growth form
    Rhizomes
    there are long rhizomes present
  • 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
    Ligule length
    1.5–14 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
    2.8–8.5 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    2.8–8.5 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
    • ridges or ledges
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    20–100 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 singly or a few together (they may form diffuse colonies)

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
present
Massachusetts
absent
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.

Vermont
historical (S-rank: SH)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex pellita:
perigynia mostly 2.4-5 mm long, with pubescence dense enough to conceal the veins (vs. C. houghtoniana, with perigynia 4.5-6.5 mm long, the pubescence not so dense as to conceal the veins).
Carex vestita:
beak of perigyium with soft, hyaline, obscure teeth and inflorescence with 1 or rarely 2 staminate spikes borne on peduncles 2-20 mm long (vs. C. houghtoniana, with beak of perigynium with distinct teeth 0.5-0.8 mm long and inflorescence with 1-3 staminate spikes borne of peduncles mostly 20-90 mm long).

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

118.  Carex houghtoniana Torr. ex Dewey N

Houghton’s sedge. ME, NH, VT. Open, often disturbed, soils of fields, roadsides, logged forests, and ledges.