Carex utriculata Boott

swollen-beaked 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

Swollen-beaked sedge is a widespread sedge that can be dominant in northern wetlands. It is found in lake and river shores, marshes and fens. Children of the Gosiute of Utah snacked on the tender stems and roots.

Habitat

Fens, marshes, shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
2.5–15 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
  • the lowest spike on the plant is not borne on a peduncle
Top spike
the uppermost spike contains only staminate flowers
Perigynium hairs
the perigynium has no hairs
Perigynium length
3.2–8.6 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 divided at the top into two teeth
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bumps on fruit
    there are no papillae on the perigynium surface
    Inflorescence length
    100–500 mm
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    20–100 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    At least 0 mm
    Lowest spike width
    10–15 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    1–2.7 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
    0.2–0.8 mm
    Perigynium color
    • green
    • tan
    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
    3.2–8.6 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    9–15
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    4–7
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    4–7
    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 ovate (egg-shaped)
    Perigynium width
    1.7–3 mm
    Perigynium winged
    the perigynium has no wings
    Pollen- and seed-producing spikes
    some of the spikes produce perigynia
    Pollen-producing spike length
    20–70 mm
    Pollen-producing spike number
    1–3
    Pollen-producing spike width
    10–15 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 does not have teeth (it may or may not have hairs)
    Scale color
    • brown
    • green
    Scale length
    2.6–7.6 mm
    Scale tip
    • the carpellate scale tip is acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    • the carpellate scale tip is acute (has a sharp point)
    Spike on stalk
    • the lowest spike on the plant has a peduncle
    • the lowest spike on the plant is not borne on a peduncle
    Spike orientation
    the spikes are oriented vertically or pressed against the axis
    Spikes per stem
    2-15
    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 only staminate flowers
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene dimples
    the achene has no folds or dimples
    Achene length
    1.3–2 mm
    Style persistence
    the style stays on 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 cross-section
    • The leaf blade is folded lengthwise, with one prominent midvien
    • the leaf blade is flat or M-shaped, with two prominent side-veins
    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
    • the top edge of the leaf sheath has papillae on it
    • 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
    2.5–15 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    2.5–15 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • fens
    • marshes
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    25–100 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
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.

Maine
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex retrorsa:
with the bract of lowermost carpellate spike with a blade (2.5–) 3–9 times as long as the inflorescence and staminate spike usually solitary, barely elevated above the uppermost carpellate spike (vs. C. utriculata, with the bract of lowermost carpellate spike with a blade up to 2.5 times as long as the inflorescence and staminate spikes numbering 2-5 per inflorescence, well elevated above the uppermost carpellate spike).
Carex rostrata:
leaf blades U-shaped in cross-section, white-green, 1.5-4.5 mm wide, the adaxial surface minutely papillose (vs. C. utriculata, with leaf blades flat to V-shaped in cross-section, pale green to green, mostly 4.5–12 mm wide, smooth or rarely scabrous).

Synonyms

  • Carex rostrata var. utriculata (Boott) Bailey

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

190.  Carex utriculata Boott N

swollen-beaked sedge. Carex rostrata Stokes var. utriculata  (Boott) Bailey • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Lakes shores, river shores, marshes, and graminoid fens.

179×190. Carex bullata × Carex utriculata Carex ×‌olneyi Boott is a rare hybrid known from RI. The hybrid can be recognized by its general similarity to Carex bullata, but the perigynia beaks are shorter (1.9–2.6 mm long) and vary in their presence of scabrules (some beak margins are smooth, some have a few scabrules, others have abundant scabrules). There are additional specimens determined to be this hybrid (including collections from CT, MA, and NH). However, those seen by me from CT and NH are true C. bullata, and most of those from MA are also true C. bullata. More study is needed to determine the range of this nothospecies in New England.