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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Goose-grass Sedge - Carex plectocarpa
Other Names:  Carex lenticularis var. dolia

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G3
State Rank: S3
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: Low
CCVI: Highly Vulnerable
C-value: 9

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Known in Montana primarily from Glacier National Park and from one population in the Absarokas. Some plants in the Logan Pass area are subject to trampling by hikers. Otherwise, the potential for negative impacts to the species appears to be low.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Goose-grass Sedge (Carex plectocarpa) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 10/30/2012
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score1-2 - Small to Moderate. Population size is imprecisely known but is believed to be >2,000 individuals and <100,000 individuals.

    CommentLikely over 10,000 plants but available data are imprecise.

    Range Extent

    Score3 - Local Endemic or Very Small Montana Range: Generally restricted to an area <10,000 sq. miles (equivalent to the combined area of Phillips and Valley Counties) or <6 Sub-basins (4th code watersheds) Range-wide OR limited to one Sub-basin in Montana

    CommentGlobal range includes Glacier National Park and the Beartooth Plateau.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score2 - Low: Generally occurring in 4-10 Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s).

    CommentKnown from 5 subwatersheds.

    Environmental Specificity

    Score1 - Moderate: Species is restricted to a specific habitat that is more widely distributed or to several restricted habitats and is typically dependent upon relatively unaltered, good-quality habitat (C Values of 5-7).


    Score0-1 - Stable to Minor Declines:


    Score1 - Medium: 11-30% of the populations are being negatively impacted or are likely to be impacted by one or more activities or agents, which are expected to result in decreased populations and/or habitat quality and/or quantity.

    CommentTrampling at the Logan Pass area population has been identified as a potential impact.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score0-1 - Low to Moderate Vulnerability.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 8 to 11 total points scored out of a possible 19.

General Description
Caespitose. Stems ascending to prostrate, 5–30 cm. Leaves basal and cauline; blades 1–3 mm wide. Inflorescence of 3 or 4 short-pedunculate, overlapping spikes; lowest bract shorter or longer than the inflorescence. Spikes 8–20 mm long; uppermost bisexual with male flowers below; lower spikes female. Perigynia ovate, ascending, green and purple-blotched, 2–3 mm long with a beak, ca. 0.2 mm long; stigmas 2. Female scales narrowly ovate, blackish with a pale midvein, shorter than the perigynia. Achene 2-sided, smaller than the perigynium (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Fruit mature in late July-August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Carex is a very large genus, making identification of individual species sometimes difficult. Specimens with mature fruit are necessary for positive identification. Perhaps the best field characters are the loose tussocks with the leaves and stems generally growing at a near-horizontal angle to the ground.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Endemic to Glacier National Park, Park County, MT and adjacent WY (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 25

(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)

Shallow, wet, stony soil around streams 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
Validated observations of Goose-grass Sedge occur in Glacier National Park (GNP) and Park County, Montana and adjacent Wyoming (Lesica et. al. 2012). Reported threats to populations in GNP are associated with recreational use where Goose-grass Sedge occurs (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021). A major population is at Logan Pass where concentrated recreation occurs and the potential for National Park Service facility development has been reported as a concern. Other populations occur along climbing routes and hiking trails which may be exposed to trampling. Information on the scope, severity, and/or timing of these threats is needed.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Dragon J.A. and D.S. Barrington. 2009. Systematics of the Carex aquatilis and C. lenticularis Lineages: Geographically and Ecologically Divergent Sister Clades of Carex Section Phacocystis (Cyperaceae). American Journal of Botany 96(10): 1896-1906.
    • 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?
    • Hermann, F.J. 1964. A new Carex from Glacier National Park, Montana. Leaflets Western Botany 10:65-68.
    • Lesica, P. 1988. Report on the conservation status of Carex lenticularis var. Dolia, a candidate threatened species. Unpublished report, Glacier National Park, Montana 50 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.
    • Standley, Lisa A. 1985. "Systematics of the Acutae Group of Carex (Cyperaceae) in the Pacific Northwest". Systematic Botany Monographs. 7: 1-106.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Goose-grass Sedge"
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Citation for data on this website:
Goose-grass Sedge — Carex plectocarpa.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from