Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Carex capillaris L.
- Family: Sedge (Cyperaceae)
- Flowering: June-August
- Field Marks: This species is identified by its thread-like stems, very narrow, mostly basal,
flat leaves, one separate male spike and 1-3 female spikes on thread-like stalks, and a
- Habitat: Wooded swamps, bogs, fens.
- Habit: Densely tufted perennial herb from thickened rootstocks.
- Stems: Upright, thread-like, up to 20 inches tall, smooth or slightly rough to the touch.
- Leaves: Elongated, flat or becoming rolled into a tube, up to 1/12 inch wide, smooth, shorter
than the stems, usually brownish at the base.
- Flowers: Borne in spikes, the male spike 1, the female spikes 1-3, exceeding the male spike;
male spike up to 1/2 inch long, pale brown, sometimes with a few female flowers, on a
thread-like stalk; female spikes oblong, up to 1/2 inch long, up to 1/6 inch thick, on slender,
nodding stalks; female scales ovate, rounded or short-pointed at the tip, pale, shorter than the
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 3.
- Pistils: Borne in perigynia, the perigynia 3-angled, narrowly ovoid, olive-green, shiny,
faintly nerved, up to 1/6 inch long, with a slender beak at the tip; styles 3.
- Fruits: Achenes 3-angular.
- Notes: The achenes are eaten by waterfowl.
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