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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Northwestern Showy Sedge - Carex spectabilis

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3S4
C-value: 7

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
Short-rhizomatous. Stems erect, 20–60 cm, loosely tufted. Leaves basal and cauline; basal leaves sometimes bladeless; cauline blades 3–6 mm wide. Inflorescence of 3 to 6 overlapping spikes; lowest bract shorter than the inflorescence. Spikes: uppermost male 1–2 cm long; lower female, pedunculate, ascending, 1–3 cm long, ovoid to cylindric; lowest sometimes arching. Perigynia ascending, green and purplish, glabrous, flattened, narrowly elliptic, 3.5–4.5 × 1.5–2 mm with a distinct beak ca. 0.5 mm long; stigmas 3. Female scales lanceolate, acuminate, blackish with a pale midvein sometime prolonged into an awn tip, as wide and ca. as long as the perigynia. Achene 3-sided, smaller than the perigynium (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Species Range
Montana Range


Range Comments
AK south to CA, UT and 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: 17

(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)

Moist to wet meadows, turf, forest openings; subalpine, rarely alpine (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?
    • Williams, K.L. 2012. Classification of the grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, forests and alpine vegetation associations of the Custer National Forest portion of the Beartooth Mountains in southcentral Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 376 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Northwestern Showy Sedge — Carex spectabilis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from