Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Carex debilis Michx.
- Family: Sedge (Cyperaceae)
- Flowering: May-August
- Field Marks: This Carex is distinguished by its very slender perigynia which taper to points
at each end. There is a separate slender male spike.
- Habitat: Swamps, low woods, open woods, meadows.
- Habit: Tufted perennial herb with a thickened rootstock.
- Stems: Upright, unbranched, triangular, up to 3 feet tall, smooth, purple at the base.
- Leaves: Several, elongated, flat, 1/10-1/3 inch wide, smooth.
- Flowers: Borne in spikelets, the male arranged in a single slender spike up to 2 inches long,
the female in 2-4 very slender, stalked spikes up to 3 inches long, with uncrowded flowers;
bracts leaf-like, often longer than the inflorescence.
- Scales: Oblong to obovate, pale brown with a green center, about 1/2 as long as the perigynia.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 3.
- Pistils: Enclosed in a perigynium; each perigynium narrowly lanceoloid, more or less
triangular, up to 1/3 inch long, narrowed at both ends, with 2 prominent veins; styles 3.
- Fruits: Achenes very narrow, somewhat triangular, borne on a short stalk.
- Notes: The achenes are eaten by waterfowl. This is a variable species with several
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