Carex paleacea Schreb. ex Wahlenb.

chaffy 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

Chaffy sedge is a salt marsh sedge of the central to northern New England coast, and the eastern and northern coasts of Canada. It forms colonies from long, rope-like rhizomes. It occasionally forms hybrids with other species that may be found in or near its coastal habitat.

Habitat

Brackish or salt marshes and flats, intertidal, subtidal or open ocean

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
stem leaf blade width
4–8 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
Perigynium length
2.4–4 mm
Leaf sheath color
  • the leaf sheath has no pink, red or purple tinting
  • 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
    the perigynium surface has papillae on it
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    22–65 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    5–68 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    0.2–0.4 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
    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
    • glaucous (with a whitish bloom)
    • green
    Perigynium cross-section
    • the perigynium is biconvex (convexly rounded on both sides, like a lens) in cross-section
    • the perigynium is planoconvex (flat on one surface and rounded on the other) in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    the perigynium has no hairs
    Perigynium length
    2.4–4 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    0–100
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    0–50
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    0–50
    Perigynium orientation
    the perigynia are angled outwards
    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)
    Perigynium width
    1.3–1.9 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
    Scale awn
    the carpellate scale has an awn on it
    Scale awn texture
    the carpellate scale awn has tiny teeth
    Scale color
    • red-brown
    • tan
    Scale length
    2.9–20 mm
    Scale tip
    • the carpellate scale tip is acuminate (tapered to a narrow 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 acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    • the staminate scale tip is acute (has a sharp point)
    Stigma branching
    the stigmas have two branches
    Top spike
    the uppermost spike contains only staminate flowers
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene dimples
    the achene has a clear fold or dimple
    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 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
    • 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
    4–8 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    4–8 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    Specific habitat
    • brackish or salt marshes and flats
    • intertidal, subtidal or open ocean
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    15–80 cm
    Relative stem height
    the main stem is equal to or shorter 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

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Carex crinita var. paleacea (Schreb. ex Wahlenb.) Dewey
  • Carex paleacea var. transatlantica Fern.

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

139.  Carex paleacea Schreb. ex Wahlenb. N

chaffy sedge. Carex crinita Lam. var. paleacea (Schreb. ex Wahlenb.) Dewey; C. paleacea Schreb. ex Wahlenb. var. transatlantica Fern. • MA, ME, NH. Saline and brackish marshes.

139×141. Carex paleacea × Carex stricta This rare sedge hybrid is known from MA, ME, NH. It is very similar to Carex recta and C. vacillans (see identification key). It can be separated from both by its leaf blades that usually lack stomates on the adaxial surface (present in both of the aforementioned species) and its relatively consistent production of prominently ladder-fibrillose basal leaf sheaths (this feature usually lacking in the aforementioned species). From C. recta it is further distinguished by its nerved perigynia (usually 1–4 ± prominent veins on mature perigynia) and by its nearly complete sterility ( C. recta usually produces many mature achenes). From C. vacillans it is further distinguished by its relatively broad, pale central band on the carpellate scales, narrower perigynium apex (acute 
in this hybrid, rounded or nearly so in C. vacillans), and absence of scabrules about the orifice of the perigynia beak.