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

Carex livida (Wahlenb.) Willd.
pale sedge (livid sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #20949)

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Distribution of Carex livida
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Carex livida var. radicaulis

Species Information

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Perennial herb from slender, creeping rhizomes; stems 5-60 cm tall, arising singly or a few together, shorter or longer than the leaves.
Sheaths smooth, thin, some lower ones persisting; blades 6 to 12 per stem, bluish-green, channeled, borne on the lower 1/3 of the stem, 0.5-3.5 mm wide.
Spikes 2 to 4, the terminal one linear, 1-2.5 cm long, with male flowers, the lower spikes 1 to 3, cylindrical, with female flowers, the lower more or less remote and long-stalked, the upper unstalked or short-stalked, erect; bracts subtending the lowest female spikes sheathing, leaflike, sometimes exceeding the inflorescence, the upper bracts awnlike.
Perigynia egg-shaped, 3.5-4.5 mm long, 1.5-2 mm wide, light green or whitish, densely pimpled, with 2 marginal nerves, numerous, crowded, spreading, short-stalked, tapering to the tips, beakless; female scales egg-shaped, equalling or slightly shorter than the perigynia, purplish-brown, the centres pale green, the margins wide, translucent, the tips round; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, 2-2.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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

Habitat / Range

Bogs, fens, swamps and moist to wet open forests in the lowland and montane zones; common along the coast, less frequent in E BC (Rocky Mountains); disjunct circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to MA, NY, MI, WI, MN, CO, ID and OR; Iceland, N Europe and E Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex livida

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) 5 378 1670
Slope Gradient (%) 0 4 45
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
2 324 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 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(6), CDF(1), CWH(96), ESSF(3), ICH(7), MH(5), MS(2), SBS(13)

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, circumpolar sedge (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on wet to very wet, nitrogen-medium soils within boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates. Scattered in semi - terrestrial communities on gleysolic or organic soils with slow-moving groundwater near or at the ground surface (predominantly in fens, bogs,. and marshes). Characteristic of 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 not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Carex livida var. grayana (Dewey) Fernald
Carex livdia var. radicaulis (Wahlenb.) Willd.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References