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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Alpine Sedge - Carex glacialis

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

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Carex glacialis occurs throughout Canada, and has recently been discovered in the United States where it occurs at 4 locations in Montana. It grows in limestone fellfield habitats within the alpine. Populations are few, but appear stable. Surveys are needed to explore potential habitat, map its distribution, and determine population sizes.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Alpine Sedge (Carex glacialis) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 09/13/2017
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Range Extent

    ScoreD - 1,000-5,000 sq km (~400-2,000 sq mi)

    Area of Occupancy

    ScoreC - 3-5 4-km2 grid cells

    Number of Populations

    ScoreA - 1 - 5

    Number of Occurrences or Percent Area with Good Viability / Ecological Integrity

    ScoreB - Very few (1-3) occurrences with excellent or good viability or ecological integrity

    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreA - Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce


    ScoreD - Low

    CommentThreat category includes: Climate change & severe weather. Its habitat of fellfields are dynamic places; however, climate change is a potential threat to high elevation sites.

General Description
Caespitose. Stems erect, 2–6 cm. Leaves mainly basal; blades < 1 mm wide. Inflorescence of 2 to 4 overlapping spikes; lower bract inconspicuous. Spikes erect, unisexual; the male terminal, 3–5 mm long; the lower female, short-pedunculate, 3–5 mm long. Perigynia spreading, green to purplish-black, obovoid, glabrous, 2–2.5 mm long with a distinct beak ca. 0.5 mm long, loosely aggregated; stigmas 3. Female scales ovate, purplish-black with a hyaline margin and green midvein, shorter than the perigynia. Achene 3-sided, nearly filling the perigynium (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Circumpolar south to BC, AB and MT. Known from Flathead and Pondera counties (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 4

(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)

Calcareous fellfields on cool upper slopes; alpine (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

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?
    • 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.
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Citation for data on this website:
Alpine Sedge — Carex glacialis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from