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

Carex canescens L.
silvery sedge (Columbia sedge; grey sedge; white sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #85601)

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Distribution of Carex canescens
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Species Information

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Perennial, somewhat tufted herb from elongate, fibrous roots; stems 20-60 cm tall, sharply triangular, rough below the inflorescence, about as long as the leaves.
Sheaths tight; blades numerous, borne on the lower part of the stem, 2-3 mm wide, flat.
Spikes 5 to 10 in a 3- to 5-cm long inflorescence, the upper closer together, egg-shaped, many-flowered, about 5 mm long, ascending, the lower few spikes separate, with both female and male flowers, the female flowers towards the tips, the male flowers inconspicuous; bracts reduced, only the lowermost bract sometimes awnlike, about 0.5-2 cm long.
Perigynia egg-shaped, 2.2-2.5 mm long, 0.8-1 mm wide, light green, minutely whitish-dotted, plano-convex, smooth, with several nerves, especially above, unstalked, the beaks short, 0.25 mm long, smooth, not cleft; female scales egg-shaped, almost covering the perigynia, pointed, green, with green midribs; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, 1.2-1.5 mm long, filling the perigynia.

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

Bogs, swamps, fens, wet meadows and streambanks in all but the alpine zone; common in S BC, less frequent northward; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to Labr. and NF and S to ME, PA, WV, IN, MN, WI, SD, NM, AZ and CA; Greenland, Iceland, Eurasia, S America, Australia, New Guinea.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex canescens

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) 10 1136 2280
Slope Gradient (%) 0 2 70
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
20 288 360
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: BAFA(1), BG(2), BWBS(6), CDF(6), CWH(38), ESSF(66), ICH(21), IDF(13), MS(47), SBPS(7), SBS(55), SWB(3)


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 cinerea

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References