Carex saxatilis L.

russet 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

Russet sedge has a widespread northern and western distribution in North America, but only makes it into New England via Maine, in the Mt. Katahdin area.

Habitat

Alpine or subalpine zones, ridges or ledges, shores of rivers or lakes, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
Maine
stem leaf blade width
0.9–6.3 mm
Lowest bract sheath
the lowest bract has no sheath (or a very short sheath up to four millimeters in length)
Spike on stalk
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
2.2–5.5 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
    25–200 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
    5–20 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    0.2–0.8 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
    Up to 0.3 mm
    Perigynium color
    brown
    Perigynium cross-section
    • the perigynium is biconvex (convexly rounded on both sides, like a lens) in cross-section
    • the perigynium is relatively flat in cross-section
    Perigynium hairs
    the perigynium has no hairs
    Perigynium length
    2.2–5.5 mm
    Perigynium nerve texture
    NA
    Perigynium orientation
    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)
    Perigynium width
    1.1–2.9 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 does not have an awn (it may have a short point)
    Scale awn texture
    NA
    Scale color
    brown
    Scale length
    1.9–5 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
    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 no folds or dimples
    Achene length
    2–2.5 mm
    Style persistence
    the style stays on 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
    0.9–6.3 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    0.9–6.3 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    Maine
    Specific habitat
    • alpine or subalpine zones
    • edges of wetlands
    • ridges or ledges
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    8–90 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
    • the stems grow singly or a few together (they may form diffuse colonies)

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

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

Maine
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex oligosperma:
carpellate flowers with 3 stigmas, achenes triangular in cross-section, and perigynia distinctly veined (vs. C. saxatilis, with flowers with 2 stigmas, achenes biconvex, and perigynia obscurely veined).

Synonyms

  • Carex miliaris Michx.
  • Carex rhomalea (Fern.) Mackenzie
  • Carex saxatilis L. var. miliaris (Michx.) Bailey
  • Carex saxatilis L. var. rhomalea Fern.

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

187.  Carex saxatilis L. NC

russet sedge. Carex miliaris Michx.; C. rhomalea (Fern.) Mackenzie; C. saxatilis L. var. miliaris (Michx.) Bailey; C. saxatilis L.  var. rhomalea Fern. • ME; in vicinity of Katahdin, Piscataquis County. Tarn shores and moist turf on ledges and in gullies.

187×191. Carex saxatilis × Carex vesicaria Carex ×‌stenolepis Lessing is a very rare sedge hybrid, known only from tarn shores on the east slope of Katahdin, Piscataquis County, ME. It is recognized by narrow, ± involute leaf blades mostly 2–3 mm wide, ovoid to obloid-ovoid perigynia with a short beak (0.5–1 mm) with very short terminal teeth (ca. 0.25 mm long). It is largely sterile and produces few (if any) mature achenes.