Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Bristly-stalk Sedge - Carex leptalea

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
(see State Rank Reason below)
C-value: 8

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Numerous collections at MONTU and MONT from 12 counties, including Lincoln, Flathead, Glacier, Missoula, Granite, Ravalli, Carbon, Stillwater, Lake, Powell, Teton and Lewis & Clark (October 2012). The species is most abundant in Flathead County and northwest Montana and apparently scattered elsewhere in the state.
General Description
Finely rhizomatous. Stems prostrate to ascending, 5–40 cm, tufted. Leaves basal and lower-cauline; blades <1 mm wide. Inflorescence a solitary bractless spike. Spike narrow, 4–7 mm long; male flowered portion above, 1–2 mm long; female flowers below, few. Perigynia narrowly elliptic, veiny, thick-stalked, 1.5–2.5 mm long, green, beakless; stigmas 3. Female scales green to tan, awn-tipped, 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).

Diagnostic Characteristics
The only species in Section Polytrichoideae: Spike single, terminal, narrow, few-flowered, androgynous or all pistillate; stigmas 3, achene trigonous or round in cross-section, not filling the perigynium; rachilla absent; perigynium 5 mm or less, green, ascending, elliptic, beakless; lowest pistillate scales small, not foliaceous, mostly shorter than the perigynia; leaves numerous, slender, pale green. Fairly distinctive in overall appearance: pale green plant with very slender leaves, filiform stems, and small, single, terminal, androgynous spikes.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Labrador to Alaska, south to central Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, northeastern Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and California. Not reported from Kansas and Nebraska. Carex leptalea ssp. harperi is found in the southeastern portion of the range, and C. leptalea ssp. pacifica occurs in British Columbia and southernmost Alaska.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 99

(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)

Often calcareous fens, thickets, wet spruce or cedar forests, often on hummocks; valleys, montane (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • 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?
    • Cronquist, A., A. H. Holmgren, N. H. Holmgren, J. L. Reveal, and P. K. Holmgren. 1977. Intermountain flora: Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Volume 6: The Monocotyledons. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. 584 pp.
    • Deam, C.M. 1940. Flora of Indiana. Division Forestry, Dept. Conservation, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1236 pp.
    • Fernald, M.L. 1970. Gray's manual of botany. 8th ed. Van Nostrand Company, New York.
    • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY. 910 pp.
    • Godfrey, R.K., and J.W. Wooten. 1979. Aquatic and wetland plants of southeastern U.S. Monocotyledons. Univ. Georgia Press, Athens. 712 pp.
    • Hulten, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.
    • 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.
    • Porsild, A.E., and W.J. Cody. 1980. Vascular plants of continental Northwest Territories, Canada. National Museum Natural Sciences, National Museums Canada, Ottawa. 667 pp.
    • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.
    • Ridley, H.N. 1930. The dispersal of plants throughout the world. L. Reeve & Co., Ltd., Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom. 744 pp.
    • Steyermark, J. 1963. Flora of Missouri. University of Iowa Press, Ames.
    • Strausbaugh, P.D., and E.L. Core. 1978. Flora of West Virginia. Seneca Books, Incorporated, Grantsville, West Virginia. 1079 pp.
    • Voss, E. G. 1972. Michigan flora: A guide to the identification and occurrence of the native and naturalized seed-plants of the state. Part I. Gymnosperms and Monocots. Cranbrook Institute of Science. 488 pp.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Bristly-stalk Sedge"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Bristly-stalk Sedge — Carex leptalea.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from