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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Coastal Sand Sedge - Carex incurviformis
Other Names:  Carex maritima var. incurviformis

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: S2?
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
CCVI: Extremely Vulnerable
C-value: 9

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Five known occurrences in Montana, three are in Wilderness areas or Glacier National Park. However, all populations are apparenly small to moderate in size based on limited survey data for the species. All occurrences are in alpine habitat that is not generally subject to human impacts.
General Description
Short-rhizomatous. Stems erect to ascending, 2–15 cm, loosely tufted. Leaves mainly basal; blades ca. 1 mm wide. Inflorescence 3 to 5 bisexual spikes, densely clustered in a hemispheric head; lowest bract inconspicuous. Spikes ca. 5 mm long; male flowers above, inconspicuous; female below. Perigynia ascending, glabrous, narrowly ellipsoid, ribbed, 3.5–4 × 1–2 mm, green to brown, with an indistinct, mostly entire beak 0.5–1 mm long; stigmas 2. Female scales brown with hyaline margins, shorter than the perigynia. Achene 2-sided, slightly smaller than the perigynium (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Lesica (2012) treats this species as Carex maritima Gunnerus.

Fruit mature in July.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Carex breweri and C. capitata occur at high elevations, but they have solitary spikes that are not subtended by papery bracts as long as the spikes. Carex douglasii does not occur in subalpine or alpine habitats. Carex microptera and C. haydeniana have male flowers (recognized by old anthers) at the base of the spikes. A hand lens or microscope will be needed to observe these characters.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Circumpolar south to CA and CO (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 6

(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 rock ledges and moist tundra in the alpine zone.
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.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Coastal Sand Sedge"
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Citation for data on this website:
Coastal Sand Sedge — Carex incurviformis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from