Rhynchospora torreyana Gray

Torrey's 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

Torrey's beaksedge is a rare plant of coastal plain pond shores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It depends on fluctuating water levels to minimize competition with woody plants. The integrity of coastal plain ponds (and Torrye's beaksedge populations) is threatened by shoreline development, water table drawdown due to wells, eutrophication from fertilizer and septic runoff, and soil disturbance.

Habitat

Shores of rivers or lakes

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
Stem shape in cross-section
the stem is round or oval in cross-section
Leaf blade width
2–3 mm
Leaf blade cross-section
  • the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
  • the leaf blade is triangular in cross-section
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
1.4–1.6 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 between one tenth as long as the achene, and equal in length to 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
    2.5–3.5 mm
    Floral scale shape
    the floral scales are ovate (roughly egg-shaped)
    Flower number per cluster
    • 2-5
    • 5-20
    Inflorescence bract angle
    the bracts are vertical or angled only slightly outwards
    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 at least somewhat spread out, with at least one branch coming from the main stem
    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
    • 2
    • 3
    Stigma number
    2
    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 tiny wrinkles that run cross-wise across the achene
    Achene tubercle relative width
    the tubercle is two thirds to about 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
    1.4–1.6 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
    0.2–0.5 mm
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizome thickness
    0 mm
    Underground organs
    there are only slender roots on the plant
  • 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
    • the leaf blade is triangular in cross-section
    Leaf blade width
    2–3 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
    10–30 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Massachusetts
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    50–100 cm
    Stem shape 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

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

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

Conservation Status

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

Massachusetts
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), state endangered (code: SE)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Rhynchospora nitens

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Rhynchospora

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

9.  Rhynchospora torreyana Gray NC

Torrey’s beaksedge. MA, RI; also reported from CT by Kral (2002b), but specimens are unknown. Coastal plain pond shores.