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

Carex illota L.H. Bailey
sheep sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4203)

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Distribution of Carex illota
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from fibrous roots; stems 10-35 cm tall, exceeding the leaves.
Sheaths tight; blades flat, 1-3 mm wide, borne on the lower 1/3 of the stem, the lowermost stem leaves reduced to scales.
Spikes 3 to 5, aggregated into a dense 0.5- to 1.5-cm long ellipsoid head, unstalked, with both female and male flowers, the female ones towards the tips; bracts subtending the spikes sheathless, reduced, inconspicuous.
Perigynia narrowly egg-shaped, 2.5-3.5 mm long, 1.3-1.5 mm wide, brownish to dark brown, more or less flattened, the margins with narrow wings, lightly several-nerved on the backs, with faint nerves or nerveless below, the beaks shallowly bidentate, about 1.5 mm long, narrowly margined, sometimes toothed; female scales elliptical, dark brown, somewhat shorter and narrower than the perigynia, margins smooth; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, 1.2-1.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Bogs, shorelines and wet meadows in the upper montane to alpine zones; frequent in S BC; E to SW AB and S to CO, UT, NV and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex illota

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) 822 1751 2453
Slope Gradient (%) 0 4 40
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
2 195 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 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: CWH(1), ESSF(83), IDF(1), MH(2), MS(4), SBS(1), 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 subalpine boreal & cool mesothermal.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References