Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Carex gracillima Schweinitz
- Family: Sedge (Cyperaceae)
- Flowering: May-August
- Field Marks: This slender species is recognized by its terminal spike which is male except
for a few female flowers at the tip, and its 2-4 slender lateral female spikes on drooping stalks.
- Habitat: Meadows, moist woods.
- Habit: Tufted perennial herb from thickened rootstocks.
- Stems: Upright, slender, smooth, up to 3 feet tall, usually purplish at the base.
- Leaves: Elongated, dark green, flat, up to 1/3 inch wide, smooth, shorter than the stems.
- Flowers: Borne in spikes, the terminal spike narrowly cylindric, up to 2 inches long, mostly
male with a few female flowers at the tip; lateral spikes 2-4, narrowly cylindrical, up to
3 inches long, on slender, drooping stalks; female scales ovate to oblong, mostly rounded at
the tip, whitish, about half as long as the perigynia; styles 3.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 3.
- Pistils: Borne in perigynia, the perigynia appressed-ascending, narrowly ellipsoid, smooth,
few-nerved, 3-angled, not shiny, not tapering to a distinct beak, up to 1/6 inch long.
- Fruits: Achenes triangular.
- Notes: The achenes are eaten by waterfowl.
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