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

Carex membranacea Hook.
fragile sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Ryan Batten  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #53128)

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Distribution of Carex membranacea
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from long-creeping rhizomes; stems 10-50 cm tall, arising singly, triangular, rough below the inflorescence, longer than the leaves.
Sheaths tight; ligules shorter than wide; blades 4 to 8 per stem, V-shaped, cross-walled; 2.5-5 mm wide, arising in the lower 1/3 of the stem.
Spikes 2 to 5, the terminal 1 or 2 spikes with male flowers, the lower 1 to 3 spikes with female flowers, 1-3 cm long, on short stalks, erect; bracts subtending the lowest spike leaflike, sheathless or short-sheathing, the lowest shorter than the inflorescence.
Perigynia elliptical to broadly egg-shaped or nearly globe-shaped, 2.5-4 mm long, 1.3-2.2 mm wide, obscurely few-nerved, inflated, purplish-black, shiny, the bases round, short-stalked, the beaks short, 0.1-0.3 mm long, entire or nearly so; female scales lanceolate to egg-shaped, with blunt or pointed tips, narrower and shorter than the perigynia, purplish-brown, with 3-nerved, lighter centres and narrow, translucent margins; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, 1.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Fens, bogs, shorelines and wet meadows in the montane to alpine zones; rare in extreme N BC; amphiberingian, N to AK, YT and NT and disjunct E to PQ and Labr.; E Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex membranacea

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) 1280 1528 1695
Slope Gradient (%) 0 7 20
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
65 2 300
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 6 7
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(2), 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 membranopacta L.H. Bailey

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References