Carex media R. Br.

closed-headed 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

Within New England there is currently only one site known for closed-headed sedge, located in northwestern Maine. However, the species has a circumboreal distribution and is more common in northern and western North America.

Habitat

Alpine or subalpine zones, cliffs, balds, or ledges

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
Maine
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 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
2.5–3.5 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
    • the perigynium surface has papillae on it
    • there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    5–12 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    Up to 10 mm
    Lowest spike width
    3–6 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    0.3–0.4 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
    • the perigynium beak has tiny serrations along the edges
    Perigynium beak teeth
    the perigynium beak is divided at the top into two teeth
    Perigynium beak teeth length
    Up to 0.5 mm
    Perigynium color
    • brown
    • green
    • yellow
    Perigynium cross-section
    the perigynium is relatively round in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    the perigynium has no hairs
    Perigynium length
    2.5–3.5 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    At least 0
    Perigynium nerve texture
    NA
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    At least 0
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    At least 0
    Perigynium orientation
    • the perigynia are angled outwards
    • the perigynia are curved or bent downwards or backwards along the axis
    • 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 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)
    Scale awn texture
    NA
    Scale color
    • brown
    • purple to black
    Scale tip
    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
    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
    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 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
    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
    Maine
    Specific habitat
    • alpine or subalpine zones
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    15–70 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 wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex buxbaumii

Synonyms

  • Carex alpina Liljeblad var. inferalpina Wahlenb.
  • Carex norvegica Retz. var. inferalpina (Wahlenb.) Hultén

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

164.  Carex media R. Br. NC

closed-headed sedge. Carex alpina Liljeblad var. inferalpina Wahlenb.; C. norvegica Retz. var.  inferalpina (Wahlenb.) Hultén • ME; single station known in northwestern portion of state. High-pH cliffs in boreal settings.