Prairie Sedge - Carex prairea
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, where it is currently known from a small area in the northwest corner of the state. The potential for negative impacts to the popoulations appears to be low.
Densely caespitose. Stems erect, 30–60 cm. Leaves: basal and cauline; cauline sheaths coppery opposite the blades that are 1–3 mm wide. Inflorescence elongate, of several, sessile, ascending spikes, overlapping above, separate and sometimes branched below; lowest bract inconspicuous. Spikes 3–6 mm long, all similar, male flowers above, female below or all female. Perigynia ascending, lanceolate, tan to brown, glabrous, serrulate-margined, 3–4 mm tapered to the flattened, grooved beak, 1.5–2 mm long; stigmas 2. Female scales brown lanceolate, concealing the perigynia. Achene 2-sided, filling the perigynium (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX)
Fruiting mid-July through August.
Carex prairea is somewhat intermediate between C. diandra and C. cusickii; distinguished from the former by having leaf sheaths that are copper colored inside at the mouth, more open flowering heads, and dull perigynia. Carex cusickii also has copper colored sheaths and open heads but has wider leaves and brownish-black perigynia. A hand lens or microscope and technical key are needed for positive identification.
YT to NL south to MT, IL, VA. Known from Lincoln County (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Rich fen with alluvium derived from calcareous glacial till in the valley zone.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.