Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Canadian Single-spike Sedge
Carex scirpoidea Michx.
- Family: Sedge (Cyperaceae)
- Flowering: June-August
- Field Marks: This sedge is distinguished by its solitary spike that is either all male or all
female, with only one type of flower per plant. The perigynia are covered with short hairs
and subtended by dark brown or black scales.
- Habitat: Usually dry soil.
- Habit: Perennial herb from creeping rhizomes, usually with last year's leaves persisting.
- Stems: Upright, branched or unbranched, rough to the touch, stiff, purple-red at base, up to
15 inches tall, usually with a small bract about 1/3 inch below the spike.
- Leaves: Mostly near base of stems, flat, rather stiff, pale green, rough on the edges, 1/8-1/6
inch wide; sheaths usually short-hairy.
- Flowers: Male and female borne in separate spikes on separate plants, the spikes solitary,
up to 1 1/2 inches long, up to 1/4 inch thick, usually subtended by a short, narrow bract;
female scales lanceolate, pointed or rounded at the tip, dark brown to black, slightly shorter
or slightly longer than the perigynia.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 3.
- Pistils: Borne in a perigynium, the perigynia more or less triangular, short-hairy, 2-ribbed,
straw-colored with a reddish brown tinge, 1/8-1/6 inch long, with a distinct but very short,
entire beak; stigmas 3.
- Fruits: Achenes triangular, 1/16-1/12 inch long, yellow-brown, short-stalked at the base.
- Notes: Waterfowl eat the achenes.
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