E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Carex glacialis Mack.
glacier sedge (glacial sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Carex glacialis
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Species Information

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Perennial, densely tufted herb from short fibrous roots; stems 5-15 cm tall, longer than the leaves.
Sheaths straw-coloured to purplish-brown; blades 3 to 8 per stem, flat, channelled above, borne on the lower 1/2 of the stem, 0.7-1 mm wide, the lower ones reduced.
Spikes 2 to 4, the terminal one unstalked, linear, 2-6 mm long, with male flowers, the lower spikes 1 to 3, not much separated, cylindrical, 2-5 mm long, with female flowers, unstalked or short-stalked, the stalks 1-2 mm long; bracts subtending the female spikes inconspicuous, scalelike, round-tipped or prolonged into awns up to 15 mm long, shorter than the inflorescence, the sheaths short, tubular, the upper bracts shorter.
Perigynia egg-shaped to lanceolate, 2-2.5 mm long, 0.8-1 mm wide, yellowish-green to straw-coloured, ascending to spreading, smooth, cylindrical, the beaks short, 0.3-0.5 mm long, translucent; female scales egg-shaped to elliptical, round-tipped to pointed, about as long as the perigynia, brownish, with greenish to straw-coloured midribs and translucent margins; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, pointed, 1.5-2 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry open slopes and gravelly sites from the montane to alpine zones; infrequent in N BC, rare southward to 52degreeN; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT and E to NF; Greenland, Iceland, N Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex glacialis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 836 990 1610
Slope Gradient (%) 0 5 40
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
200 280 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 6 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BAFA(1), BWBS(3), SWB(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Carex glacialis var. glacialis

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References