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

Carex sitchensis var. dives Prescott ex Bong.
Sitka sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #30001)

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Distribution of Carex sitchensis
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from long, creeping rhizomes; stems triangular, with rough edges, 30-120 cm tall, equalling the leaves.
Sheaths tight, short; blades flat, well distributed along the stem, 3-7 mm wide, the lower ones slightly reduced.
Spikes 3 to 10, the terminal 1 to 3 short-stalked, with male flowers, the lower spikes 2 to 7, with mostly female flowers and often several male flowers at the tops, with long stalks, 3-14 cm long, spreading or drooping; bracts subtending the spikes leaflike, sheathless, the lower ones longer than the inflorescence, the upper ones reduced.
Perigynia egg-shaped, 2-3.6 mm long, 1.3-2.3 mm wide, brownish-green, 3-angled, the angles rounded, smooth to somewhat wrinkled, marginally 2-nerved, entire or minutely bidentate; female scales egg-shaped, shorter or longer than the perigynia, often shortly awn-tipped, brownish-red, with lighter 3-nerved centres and translucent margins, often whitish at the tips; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, granular, 1.1-1.5 mm long.
Although Standley (1985) treated this taxon as a variety of C. aquatilis, we have not. To do so, it would require a similar treatment for many other taxa in our region now recognized at the species level. Also, for practical reasons, merging C. sitchensis, a community dominant, with C. aquatilis would result in resource managers naming the community after the latter.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Swamps, shorelines, marshes, fens and wet meadows in the lowland and montane zones; common throughout BC south of 56degreeN; N to SE AK and S to CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex sitchensis

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) 0 708 1890
Slope Gradient (%) 0 2 70
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
20 253 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 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: BWBS(25), CDF(12), CMA(2), CWH(197), ESSF(56), ICH(86), IDF(2), MH(7), MS(7), SBPS(15), SBS(182), SWB(3)

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American sedge distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in cool mesothermal climates on wet to very wet, nitrogen-rich soils (Moder and Mull humus forms); its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and continentality. Scattered to plentiful in semi­terrestrial communities on water-collecting sites (fresh and brackish water marshes) with gleysolic or organic soils and with more or less stagnant water tables at or above the ground surface. Often associated with Carex obnupta. Characteristic of nutrient-rich wetlands.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


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 cool mesothermal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Carex aquatilis var. dives (T. Holm) Kük.
Carex barbarae Dewey

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References