Carex athrostachya Olney
slender-beaked sedge (slenderbeak sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #26335)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Carex athrostachya
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

Perennial, tufted herb from fibrous rootstocks; stems 15-100 cm tall, exceeding the leaves.
Sheaths tight; blades flat, 1.5-4 mm wide, borne on the lower 1/3 of the stems.
Spikes 4 to 10, aggregated into a 1- to 2-cm long head, unstalked, with both female and male flowers, the female ones towards the tips; bracts subtending the spikes sheathless, at least one of the lower ones conspicuously prolonged and bristlelike, 2-10 cm long, the others reduced or inconspicuous.
Perigynia lanceolate or narrowly egg-shaped, 3-5 mm long, 1.2-1.8 mm wide, light green to straw-coloured or brownish, more or less flattened, the margins winged nearly to the bases, the upper 1/2 fringed with teeth, lightly several-nerved on both sides or nerveless below, the beaks bidentate, less than 1 mm long, narrowly margined and toothed below; female scales egg-shaped, brownish with green centres and translucent margins, somewhat shorter and narrower than the perigynia, short-awned; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, 1.1-1.6 mm long.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Spring to Summer
Source:  The USDA


Ecological Framework for Carex athrostachya

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)
1608 582 2682
Slope Gradient (%)
22 0 86

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

96 5 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 0 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

BAFA(2), BG(1), ESSF(12), IDF(8), IMA(3), MS(2), SBPS(3), SBS(1), SWB(1)

Habitat and Range

Moist to wet meadows and open forests in the lowland, montane and steppe zones; common in BC south of 55degreeN, rare northward and along the coast, absent from the Queen Charlotte Islands; N to AK, E to MB and S to TX, NM, AZ and CA.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia