Rhynchospora capillacea Torr.

needle beaksedge

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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

Needle beaksedge is a rare species of calcareous marshes, seeping cliffs and riverside seeps. There are a few populations known from each of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, all of which rank the species as endangered. Succession, invasive species and changes in hydrology are potential threats to the remaining populations.

Habitat

Fens, floodplain (river or stream floodplains), meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Stem shape in cross-section
  • the stem is roughly triangular in cross-section
  • the stem is round or oval in cross-section
Leaf blade width
0.2–0.4 mm
Leaf blade cross-section
the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
Inflorescence position
  • the inflorescence emerges from an axil, or most of its parts do so
  • the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
Inflorescence branching
the inflorescence is branched
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by scales
Fruit length
1.5–2 mm
Leaf position on plant
some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
Perianth composition
there are bristles attached at the base of the achene
Fruit cross-section
  • the fruit is biconvex or elliptic (widest in the middle and tapering to both ends) in cross-section
  • the fruit is lenticular (lens-shaped) in cross-section
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Floral bristle color
    the bristles are slightly or strongly colored with reddish brown
    Floral bristle number
    5-7
    Floral bristle relative length
    the bristles are longer than the achene
    Floral bristles
    the bristles are straight or slightly curved
    Floral scale hairs
    there are no hairs on the floral scales
    Floral scale length
    4 mm
    Floral scale shape
    the floral scales are elliptic (widest in the middle and tapering toward each end)
    Floral scale translucent
    the floral scales are opaque
    Flower number per cluster
    • 1
    • 2-5
    Inflorescence bract angle
    the bracts are vertical or angled only slightly outwards
    Inflorescence bract number
    • there are six or more bracts per inflorescence
    • there are two to five bracts per inflorescence
    • there is just one bract on the inflorescence
    Inflorescence bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Inflorescence bracts
    there are at least two bracts, and they are either flat or folded or rolled in at the edges
    Inflorescence branching
    the inflorescence is branched
    Inflorescence crowding
    the inflorescence is crowded together in one tight cluster
    Inflorescence position
    • the inflorescence emerges from an axil, or most of its parts do so
    • the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
    Inflorescence shape
    the aggregations within the inflorescence are roughly circular (not flattened) in cross-section
    Inflorescence type
    there are two or more flowers, spikes or flower clusters on a branched inflorescence
    Perianth composition
    there are bristles attached at the base of the achene
    Stamen number
    3
    Stigma number
    2
    Style division
    the style is divided nearly from the base
    floral bristle barbs
    the bristles have tiny barbs on them
    plantlets budding at flower bases
    no
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene beak length
    0 mm
    Achene surface texture
    the achene has stripes or ridges that run from end to end
    Achene tubercle relative width
    the tubercle is one half to two thirds as wide as the achene
    Capsule relative length
    NA
    Fruit cross-section
    • the fruit is biconvex or elliptic (widest in the middle and tapering to both ends) in cross-section
    • the fruit is lenticular (lens-shaped) in cross-section
    Fruit length
    1.5–2 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by scales
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is an achene (dry, seed-like fruit) with a tubercle (a swelling or projection, usually of a different color or texture) on it
    Locules in capsule
    NA
    Seed length
    0 mm
    Seed tail relative length
    0 mm
    Seed tails
    NA
    Tubercle height
    0.8–1.7 mm
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizome thickness
    Up to 1.5 mm
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Auricle length
    0 mm
    Auricle texture
    NA
    Auricles
    there are no auricles on the leaf sheath
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
    Leaf blade width
    0.2–0.4 mm
    Leaf form
    all the leaves hold their form out of water
    Leaf position on plant
    some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
    Leaf septa
    the leaf blades do not have transverse septa
    Leaf sheath hairs
    the leaf sheathes are without hairs
    Pedicel length (Typha)
    0 mm
    Stem leaf blades
    there are fully-developed leaves with leaf blades on the main stem
    Width of seed-producing inflorescence
    Up to 10 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • fens
    • meadows or fields
    • river or stream floodplains
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    10–40 cm
    Stem shape in cross-section
    • the stem is roughly triangular in cross-section
    • the stem is round or oval in cross-section
    Stem texture near tip
    the stem feels smooth near the tip

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
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

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

Connecticut
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Maine
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)
Massachusetts
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Vermont
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Rhynchospora capitellata

Synonyms

  • Rhynchospora capillacea Torr. var. leviseta E.J. Hill

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Rhynchospora

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Rhynchospora capillacea Torr. NC

needle beaksedge. Rhynchospora capillacea Torr. var. leviseta E.J. Hill • CT, MA, ME, NH, VT; 
also reported from RI by Kral (2002b), but specimens are unknown. Circumneutral fens, 
fen-like meadows, river shore seeps on high-pH bedrock.