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

Carex media R. Br.
Scandinavian sedge (alpine sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #29641)

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Distribution of Carex media
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from short rhizomes and fibrous roots; stems 15-40 cm tall, exceeding the leaves.
Sheaths purplish-red to brownish towards the bases; blades flat with rolled-under margins, 2-4 mm wide, the lower ones not reduced.
Spikes 2 to 5, the terminal one with both female and male flowers, the female flowers at the top, the male ones below, the lower spikes 1 to 3, with female flowers, short-stalked, 0.5-1 cm long, clustered together in heads; bracts subtending the spikes sheathless, bristlelike to scalelike, mostly shorter than the inflorescence.
Perigynia egg-shaped to elliptical, 2.5-3 mm long, 1.5-1.8 mm wide, green, brown to dark brown, nerveless or few-nerved, the beaks obscure, less than 0.3 mm long; female scales lanceolate, shorter and slightly narrower than the perigynia, pointed at the tips, brown to purplish-black, with light brown margins; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, 1.5 mm long.
Western taxonomists have usually included this taxon with C. norvegica Retz., a species of eastern N. America and the southern Rocky Mountains (Murray 1969).

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet meadows and wet shrublands in all but the lowland zone; common throughout BC in and E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to ME, MI, WI, IA, SD, WY, ID, NV and CA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex media

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) 245 1666 2682
Slope Gradient (%) 0 15 100
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
10 214 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 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: AT(6), BAFA(7), BWBS(4), ESSF(79), ICH(1), IDF(3), IMA(2), MH(1), MS(13), SBPS(5), SBS(2), SWB(22)


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 angarea
Carex media subsp. media
Carex media var. stevenii (T. Holm) Fernald
Carex norvegica Retz.
Carex norvegica subsp. inferalpina (Wahlenb.) Hultén
Carex norvegica subsp. inserrulata
Carex norvegica var. stevenii (T. Holm) Dorn
Carex stevenii T. Holm

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References