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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

62. Cyperaceae, the Sedge Family

2. Carex L. -- Sedge

8. Carex brevior (Dewey) Mack. ex Lunell -- Fescue sedge


Tufted from short rootstocks; culms sharply trigonous, 3-10 dm long, exceeding the leaves. Leaves 1-4 mm wide; sheaths white-hyaline ventrally, entirely green to green-and-white mottled or white-hyaline between the nerves dorsally. Spikes bisexual, gynaecandrous, 2-8, subglobose to ovoid, the lateral ones rounded to clavate at the base, 5-15 mm long, aggregate to somewhat separate in oblong to slender heads 1.5-5 cm long; bracts much reduced, inconspicuous or the lowest seldom exceeding the head; pistillate scales obtuse or acute, shorter and narrower than the perigynia. Perigynia green to pale brown, firm-textured, plano-convex, broadly ovate (the body suborbicular), 3-4.5 mm long, 3/5 to 3/4 as wide, several-nerved dorsally, nerveless or obscurely few-nerved ventrally, wing-margined to the base, abruptly contracted or somewhat tapered to the serrulate, bidentate beak which is 1/4 to nearly 1/2 the entire length of the perigynium; achenes lenticular, 1.7-2 mm long; stigmas 2. Jun--Jul. Wet meadows, low to mesic prairie, ditches, shores and stream banks; common; (ME to B.C., s to DE, TN, AR, TX, NM and OR). C. molesta Mack.

After thoroughly studying northern Great Plains material, I am not convinced of the occurrence of C. molesta in this region. Authors differ on the criteria used to distinguish C. molesta from C. brevior, and the characteristics used to make the distinction seem to be weakly or not at all correlated in our material. I am thus excluding C. molesta from this treatment under the assumption that the species either does not occur here, or it is not sufficiently distinct from C. brevior to warrant recognition.

GIF- Species Photo/Drawing

Carex brevior (from Hermann 1970).
GIF- Distribution Map

Map key


Previous Section -- Carex bicknellii Britt. -- Bicknell's sedge
Return to Family -- Cyperaceae - The Sedge Family
Next Section -- Carex brunnescens (Pers.) Poir.

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