Carex leptalea Wahlenb.

bristly-stalk 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

Bristly-stalk sedge has the widest geographic range of any North American sedge. In New England it is typically a species of rich forests, swamps and fens.

Habitat

Fens, forests, swamps

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
0.4–1.3 mm
Lowest bract sheath
the lowest bract has no sheath (or a very short sheath up to four millimeters in length)
Spike on stalk
NA
Top spike
the uppermost spike contains both staminate and carpellate flowers, with the carpellate flowers located below, or intermixed with, the staminate flowers
Perigynium hairs
the perigynium has no hairs
Perigynium length
2.4–5.4 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
NA
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bumps on fruit
    there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Distance between perigynia
    0 mm
    Length of scale
    • the scale is nearly as long as, or longer than, the perigynium
    • the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    4–18 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    0 mm
    Lowest spike width
    2–4 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
    NA
    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
    2.4–5.4 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    At least 16
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    At least 8
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    At least 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)
    Perigynium width
    0.8–1.3 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
    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
    • NA
    • the carpellate scale awn has tiny teeth
    Scale color
    • green
    • tan
    Scale length
    Up to 10 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
    NA
    Spike orientation
    the spikes are oriented vertically or pressed against the axis
    Spikes per stem
    1
    Staminate scale tip
    the staminate scale tip is acute (has a sharp point)
    Stigma branching
    the stigmas have three branches
    Top spike
    the uppermost spike contains both staminate and carpellate flowers, with the carpellate flowers located below, or intermixed with, the staminate flowers
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene dimples
    the achene has no folds or dimples
    Achene length
    1.3–1.9 mm
    Achene width
    0.7–1.2 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 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
    25–192
    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 no sheath (or a very short sheath up to four millimeters in length)
    Lowest leaf blade width
    0.4–1.3 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    0.4–1.3 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • fens
    • forests
    • swamps
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    10–70 cm
    Relative stem height
    the main stem is taller than the leaves
    Spike internode length
    0 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 wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

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)

ssp. leptalea

Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex tenuiflora:
reproductive stems with 2-4 spikes crowded together, at least the terminal one gynecandrous, and flowers with 2 styles (vs. C. leptalea, with reproductive stems with a single spike, androgynous, and flowers with 3 styles).
Carex arctogena:
flowers with 2 stigmas, achenes lenticular, and perigynia with evident beaks (vs. C. leptalea, with flowers with 3 stigmas, achenes trigonous, and perigynia beakless).

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

103.  Carex leptalea Wahlenb. ssp. leptalea N

bristle-stalk sedge. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Forests, evergreen swamps, and wooded fens, usually in rich soils and/or areas with circumneutral bedrock.