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

Carex retrorsa Schwein.
long-bracted sedge (knotsheath sedge; retrorse sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5692)

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Distribution of Carex retrorsa
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from short-creeping rhizomes; stems 15-100 cm tall, triangular, smooth, shorter than the leaves.
Sheaths tight; ligules longer than wide; blades 4 to 8 per stem, flat, with whitish cross-walls, borne on the lower 1/2 of the stem, 3-10 mm wide, flat, the lower ones reduced, persistent.
Spikes 4 to 7, the terminal 2 or 3 linear, 1.5-5 cm long, long-stalked, with many male flowers, the lower 2 to 4 spikes cylindrical, 2.5-7.5 cm long, with female flowers, or some with male flowers above the female flowers, short-stalked, usually clustered together; bracts subtending the lowest spikes leaflike, sheathless, much longer than the inflorescence.
Perigynia elliptical, mostly reflexed, 7-10 mm long, 1.7-3 mm wide, yellowish-green to reddish-brown, somewhat inflated, smooth, shiny, strongly nerved, contracted into long beaks, the beaks 2-3.5 mm long, bidentate, with straight teeth; female scales lanceolate to egg-shaped, pointed, much narrower and shorter than the perigynia, yellowish- to reddish-brown, with 3-nerved, lighter greenish centres and narrow, translucent margins; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, 1.7-2.1 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Marshes, fens, swamps, shorelines, streambanks and wet meadows in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; frequent in S BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains and south of 56degreeN, rare in SW BC; N to NT, E to NF and S to ME, MA, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, SD, CO, UT, NV and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex retrorsa

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) 38 485 1200
Slope Gradient (%) 0 0 1
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
97 115 135
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
5 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: CDF(1), ICH(4), IDF(3), PP(1), SBS(5)


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 montane boreal & cool temperate.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References