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

Carex atherodes Spreng.
awned sedge (wheat sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #3651)

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Distribution of Carex atherodes
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Species Information

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Perennial, loosely tufted herb from long-creeping rhizomes; stems 30-150 cm tall, exceeding the leaves, smooth, reddish-tinged at the bases.
Lower sheaths breaking into threads, the middle to upper sheaths long stiff-hairy all around or sometimes only towards the summits; ligules conspicuous; blades flat, 4-10 mm wide, smooth or often stiff-hairy on the lower side towards the bases, cross-walled.
Spikes 4 to 10, the upper 2 to 6 with male flowers, separate, unstalked, erect, narrowly linear, 2-6 cm long, the lower 2 to 4 with female flowers, widely separated, short-stalked, erect, narrowly cylindrical, 3-10 cm long; bracts subtending the male spikes reduced or lacking, those subtending the female flowers leaflike and well developed, longer than the inflorescence.
Perigynia ascending, lanceolate to broadly egg-shaped, 7-10 mm long, 1.7-2.5 mm wide, yellowish-green or light brownish, smooth, somewhat inflated, many-nerved, the beaks bidentate, toothed, the spreading teeth 1.2-3 mm long; female scales narrowly egg-shaped, shorter or longer than the perigynia, awn-tipped, the awns nearly as long as the scales, dull reddish-brown with 3-nerved green centres; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, 2-2.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Wet meadows, fens, marshes and lakeshores in the montane and steppe zones; frequent in BC south of 53degreeN and E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, infrequent northward; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to PQ and S to ME, NY, IN, MO, KS, NM, AZ and CA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex atherodes

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) 80 994 2470
Slope Gradient (%) 0 3 85
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
3 140 360
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: BG(8), BWBS(2), CWH(1), ESSF(8), ICH(4), IDF(40), IMA(1), MH(1), MS(2), PP(5), SBPS(11), SBS(6)


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.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References