Carex vesicaria L.

lesser bladder 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

Lesser bladder sedge is a widespread sedge of marshes, swamps, lakeshores and streamshores. It is often found in sites that are inundated in spring but dry out later in the season, and the species may become dominant in such sites.

Habitat

Marshes, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
stem leaf blade width
1.8–6.5 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
  • 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
3.6–8.2 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
    75–450 mm
    Length of scale
    the scale is shorter than the perigynium
    Lowest spike length
    20–70 mm
    Lowest spike stalk length
    At least 0 mm
    Lowest spike width
    10–20 mm
    Perigynium beak
    the perigynium has a beak
    Perigynium beak length
    1.1–2.6 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
    0.3–0.9 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
    3.6–8.2 mm
    Perigynium nerve number
    7–12
    Perigynium nerve texture
    the nerves on the perigynium are raised, even after drying the perigynium
    Perigynium nerves lower side
    3–6
    Perigynium nerves upper side
    3–6
    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 ovate (egg-shaped)
    Perigynium width
    1.7–4.5 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
    Scale awn
    The carpellate scale does not have an awn (it may have a short point)
    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
    2.4–5.8 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
    1.7–2.4 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 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 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
    1.8–6.5 mm
    Lowest leaf sheath texture
    the leaf sheath feels smooth (it may have soft hairs)
    stem leaf blade width
    1.8–6.5 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • marshes
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    15–105 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 close together in compact clusters or tufts

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.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. jejuna

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. monile

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. vesicaria

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Carex bullata:
perigynium beak mostly 2.4-4.2 mm long, scabrous in the apical portion (vs. C. vesicaria, with the perigynium beak mostly 1.2-2.7 mm long, smooth).
Carex oligosperma:
perigynium beak 0.3–0.9 mm long, obscurely bidentate at tip, and leaf blades filiform, with involute margins, 0.5–2.5 mm wide (vs. C. vesicaria, with the perigynium beak 1.1-2.6 mm long, with two evident, terminal teeth, and leaf blades flat to V-shaped, with plane margins, 1.8-6.5 mm wide).
Carex tuckermanii:
achenes asymmetrical and with an indentation on one of the surfaces, widest perigynia mostly 4.5-7 mm wide, and lowermost bract of inflorescence more than 3 times as long as the inflorescence (vs. C. vesicaria, with achenes symmetrical, lacking an indentation, perigynia mostly narrower than 3.5 mm, and lowermost bract of inflorescence less than 3 times as long as inflorescence).

Synonyms

  • Carex monile Tuckerman
  • Carex vesicaria var. jejuna Fern.
  • Carex vesicaria var. laurentiana Fern.
  • Carex vesicaria var. monile (Tuckerman) Fern.
  • Carex vesicaria var. raeana (Boott) Fern.

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Carex

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

191.  Carex vesicaria L. N

lesser bladder sedge. Carex monile Tuckerman; C. vesicaria L. var. jejuna Fern.; C. vesicaria L. var. laurentiana Fern.; C. vesicaria L. var. monile (Tuckerman) Fern.; C. vesicaria L. var. raeana (Boott) Fern. • CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Lake shores, stream shores, marshes, and openings in swamps. North American plants may be distinct from the Eurasian material (as briefly noted by Fernald 1942a). If treated as such, the name Carex monile would be used for our material.

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.