Carex recta Boott

estuary 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

Estuary sedge is unusual in that it is a stable hybrid between water sedge (Carex aquatilis, a sedge of freshwater wetlands) and chaffy sedge (C. paleacea, a sedge of salt marshes). It shares a parent (C. paleacea) with swinging sedge (C. vacillans), and the two taxa are difficult to distinguish without careful study. Estuary sedge has a northern coastal distribution, occuring only in saline and brackish marshes and shores, in a few sites on the Maine coastline.

Habitat

Brackish or salt marshes and flats, intertidal, subtidal or open ocean, shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
Maine
stem leaf blade width
2.5–5 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 has no hairs
Perigynium length
1.9–3.1 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 nearly as long as, or longer than, the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    30–55 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    6–20 mm
    Lowest spike width
    2–6 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    0.2–0.3 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 not divided at the tip into two teeth, or the teeth are very tiny
    Perigynium beak teeth length
    0 mm
    Perigynium color
    tan
    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
    1.9–3.1 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    0–8
    Perigynium nerve texture
    • NA
    • the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    0–4
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    0–4
    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)
    Perigynium width
    1.2–2 mm
    Perigynium winged
    the perigynium has no wings
    Pollen- and seed-producing spikes
    some of the spikes produce perigynia
    Pollen-producing spike number
    1–3
    Scale awn
    the carpellate scale has an awn on it
    Scale awn texture
    • the carpellate scale awn does not have teeth (it may or may not have hairs)
    • the carpellate scale awn has tiny teeth
    Scale color
    • brown
    • other
    Scale length
    2.8–5.5 mm
    Scale tip
    the carpellate scale tip is acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    Spike on stalk
    the lowest spike on the plant has a peduncle
    Spike orientation
    • the spikes are bent downwards or droop downwards
    • 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 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
    • the upper surface of the leaf blade has papillae on it
    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
    2.5–5 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    2.5–5 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    Maine
    Specific habitat
    • brackish or salt marshes and flats
    • intertidal, subtidal or open ocean
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    25–80 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

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

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Maine
historical (S-rank: SH), potentially extirpated (code: PE)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex vacillans:
perigynia long-papillose, with 2-5 veins on each surface and carpellate scales dark brown to purple-brown with a paler central band that is 10-33% the total width of the scale (vs. C. recta, with perigynia short-papillose, veinless or obscurely veined and and carpellate scales bronze to brown with a paler central band that is 33-50% the total width of the scale).

Synonyms

  • Carex kattegatensis Fries ex Lindm.
  • Carex ×‌neofilipendula Lepage
  • Carex salina Wahlenb. var. kattegatensis (Fries ex Lindm.) Almquist
  • Carex ×‌subnigra Lepage

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

140.  Carex recta Boott NC

estuary sedge. Carex kattegatensis Fries ex Lindm.; C. ×‌neofilipendula Lepage; C. salina Wahlenb. var. kattegatensis (Fries ex Lindm.) Almquist; Carex ×‌subnigra Lepage • ME; 
far-eastern portion of state. Saline and brackish marshes, Atlantic coast shorelines, tidal 
river shores. This extremely rare species is over-reported, and nearly all records from 
New England are based on Carex vacillans and Carex paleacea ×C. stricta (the latter is specifically responsible for the reports in MA and NH by Standley et al. 2002).