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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Creeping Sedge - Carex chordorrhiza

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
CCVI: Moderately Vulnerable
C-value: 9

Agency Status
USFS: Sensitive - Known in Forests (KOOT)
Sensitive - Suspected in Forests (LOLO)
Species of Conservation Concern in Forests (FLAT)



External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Rare in Montana, where it is known from fens and wet meadows in the northwest corner of the state. Generally does not appear to be threatened by any particular activities, though populations are susceptible to hydrologic changes.
General Description
Stoloniferous. Stems usually prostrate, clothed in old leaf bases, 10–25 cm. Leaves cauline; blades 1–2 mm wide, channeled . Inflorescence of 3 to 5 sessile spikes, densely aggregated, appearing like 1 ovoid head; lowest bract scale-like. Spikes 4–8 mm long, all similar; male flowers above, few female below. Perigynia spreading to ascending, brown, ovoid, 2.5–3.5 mm, with an entire beak 0.5 mm long; stigmas 2. Female scales brown with a pale midvein and margins, ca. as long as the perigynia. Achene 2-sided, filling the perigynium (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Fruit matures in July.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The strict peatland habitat and small heads help distinguish this species. Carex simulata also occurs in mires but has smaller perigynia with more than 5 per spike. A hand lens and technical manual should be used for positive identification.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Circumboreal south to OR, MT, IN and NY (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 21

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Wet, organic soil of fens in the montane zone.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

Threats or Limiting Factors
Threat impact not assigned because threats are not known (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Bernard, J. M. 1989. Life history and vegetative reproduction in Carex. Canadian Journal of Botany 68: 1441-1448.
    • Bowles, M. L., M. M. DeMauro, N. Pavlovic, and R. D. Hiebert. 1990. Effects of anthropogenic disturbances on endangered and threatened plants at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Natural Areas Journal. 10(4): 187-200.
    • Bowles, M. L., W. J. Hess, and M. M. DeMauro. 1985. An assessment of the monitoring program for special floristic elements at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Phase 1. The endangered species. Unpublished report prepared for the Morton Arborrtum, Lisle, IL.
    • Bowles, M.L., W. J. Hess,M.M. DeMauro, and R.D. Hiebert. 1986. Endangered plant inventory and monitoring strategies at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Natural Areas Journal. 6(1): 18-26.
    • Bursik, Rob. 1988. Rare plant data from specimens at the University of Idaho Herbarium, Moscow.
    • Ebersole, J. L. 1987. Short-term vegetation recovery at an Alaskan arctic coastal plain site. Arctic and Alpine Research. 19(4): 442-450.
    • Fernald, M. L. 1919. Lithological factors limiting the ranges of Pinus banksiana and Thuja occidentalis. Rhodora 21(243): 41-67.
    • Haag, R. W. 1974. Nutrient limitations to plant production in two tundra communities. Canadian Journal of Botany 52: 103-116.
    • Hutchings, M. J. 1979. Weight-density relationships in ramet populations of clonal perennial herbs, with special reference to the -3/2 power rule. Journal of Ecology 67(1): 21-33.
    • Jankovska, V., and K. Rybnicek. 1988. The genus Carex in the Late Glacial and Holocene of Czechoslovakia. Aquatic Botany 30: 23-37.
    • Kershaw, K. A. 1974. Studies on lichen-dominated systems. X. The sedge meadows of the coastal raised beaches. Canadian Journal of Botany 52: 1947-1972.
    • Lesica, P. 1994. The distribution of plant community diversity associated with glacial wetlands in the Ovando Valley, Montana. [Unpublished report.] The Nature Conservancy, Montana Field Office, Helena. 26 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Nicholson, B. J., and D. H. Vitt. 1990. The paleoecology of a peatland complex in continental western Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany. 68(1): 121-138.
    • Page, S. E., and J. O. Rieley. 1985. The ecology and distribution of Carex chordorrhiza L. fil. Watsonia 15: 253-259.
    • Schuyler, A.E. 1980. Carex chordorrhiza in Glacier National Park, Montana. Rhodora 82:519.
    • 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.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Creeping Sedge"
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Citation for data on this website:
Creeping Sedge — Carex chordorrhiza.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from