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

Carex capitata L.
capitate sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Mike Miller  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #30209)

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Distribution of Carex capitata
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from short rhizomes; stems 10-35 cm tall, equalling or much longer than the leaves.
Sheaths blunt at the tips with short ligules; blades 2 to 4 per stem from near the bases, thread-like, about 1 mm wide, the lower ones lacking or reduced to scales.
Spikes solitary, globe- or egg-shaped, 5-15 mm long, 3-7 mm wide, erect, with both female and male flowers, the male flowers towards the tips; bractless.
Perigynia egg- to nearly globe-shaped, 2-3.5 mm long, about 1.5 mm wide, pale green, flattened, smooth, nerveless on the fronts, finely few-nerved on the backs, unstalked, the beaks 0.3-0.7 mm long, bidentate; female scales egg-shaped, slightly shorter than the perigynia, round-tipped, dark brown, the margins translucent; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, 1.2-2 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Bogs and moist to dry, rocky slopes, streambanks and seepage slopes in the subalpine and alpine zones; frequent throughout BC in and E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to NH, UT, NM, CA and MX; Greenland, Iceland, Eurasia, disjunct to S South America.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex capitata

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) 620 1856 2318
Slope Gradient (%) 0 16 235
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
20 185 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 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: AT(2), BAFA(40), ESSF(16), IMA(7), MH(1), MS(1), SBPS(1), SWB(2)


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 capitata subsp. arctogena (Harry Sm.) Hiitonen
Carex capitata subsp. capitata L.
Carex capitata var. arctogena (Harry Sm.) Hultén

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References