Poor Sedge - Carex magellanica
MNPS Threat Rank
Poor Sedge is a grass-like perennial that grows in small clusters with flowering stems that are 15-40 cm tall, arising from short or long rhizomes. Roots have a yellowish-brown fuzzy covering. Stems are conspicuously covered at the base with the dried leaves from the previous year. The leaves are mostly flat, 2-4 mm wide, and on the lower half of the stem. The inflorescence consists of a narrow terminal spike of male flowers and usually 2-3 mainly female spikes, the lower of which are nodding on long stalks. The terminal spike is 4-12 mm long and 2-4 mm wide; the lower spikes are 4-22 mm long and 4-8 mm wide, and often have a few male flowers at the base. The bract is slightly longer than the terminal spike. Scales are light or dark brown, often with a greenish midvein. The perigynia are pale green, glabrous, oval in outline, and 2-3 mm long. Each perigynium has 3 stigmas and an achene that is 3-sided.
Fruit mature in July-August.
Carex paupercula occurs with C. limonsa in peatland habitat, and the two can be confused. It differs from the latter in having leaves at the base of the plant and male flowers at the base of spikes.
Circumboreal south to UT, CO, OH, NY and S. America (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
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Nutrient-poor fens and bog-like microsites often with Sphanum moss in the montane zone.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Fernald, M.L. 1906. The variations of Carex paupercula. Rhodora 8: 73-77.
- Hermann, F. J. 1970. Manual of the Carices of the Rocky Mountains and Colorado Basin. Agricultural Handbook No. 374. USDA Forest Service. 397 pp.
- Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
- Slack, N. G., D. H. Vitt, and D. G. Horton. 1980. Vegetation gradients of minerotrophically rich fens in western Alberta. Canadian Journal of Botany 58: 330-350.