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

Carex atrosquama Mack.
black-scaled sedge (lesser blackscale sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #79554)

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Distribution of Carex atrosquama
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from short rhizomes; stems 15-80 cm tall, much exceeding the leaves.
Sheaths reddish towards the bases; blades flat, 2-5 mm wide, the lower ones not much reduced.
Terminal spike with both female and male flowers, the female ones towards the tips, the lateral spikes female, short-stalked and upright to spreading, 1-2.5 cm long; bracts subtending the spikes short- sheathing, leaflike, about equalling the spikes.
Perigynia elliptical, 2.7-3.5 mm long, 1.2-2 mm wide, straw-coloured often with greenish margins, nerveless and pimpled, the beaks short, less than 0.4 mm long; female scales broadly lanceolate, shorter than and about as wide as the perigynia, reddish-black, roughly pimpled, with short-pointed tips; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, egg-shaped, granular, 1.2-1.4 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic slopes, meadows and thickets in the subalpine and alpine zones; common in BC in and east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains; N to AK, YT and NT, E to SW AB and S to CO, UT, ID and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex atrosquama

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) 1008 1799 2410
Slope Gradient (%) 0 24 68
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
24 229 306
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 3 6
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(2), BAFA(3), ESSF(5), ICH(2)


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 apoda Clokey
Carex atrata subsp. atrosquama (Mack.) Hultén
Carex atrata var. atrosquama (Mack.) Cronquist

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References