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

Carex echinata Murray
star sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #25724)

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Distribution of Carex echinata
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Species Information

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Perennial, densely tufted herb from fibrous roots; stems 10-60 cm tall, about equalling the leaves, roughened above.
Sheaths tight, more or less red-dotted on the fronts; blades 2 to 4 per stem, flat or channelled, smooth, borne on the lower 1/2 of the stems, 0.7-3 mm wide, the lower ones reduced.
Spikes 2 to 7, the terminal one unstalked, 4-10 mm long, with both male and female flowers, the female flowers towards the tips, the lower spikes 1 to 4, ascending, remote, 5- to 15-flowered, with female flowers, short-stalked; bracts subtending the female spikes short to prolonged and hairlike, the latter up to 2 cm long, bladeless, the upper bracts reduced and scalelike.
Perigynia egg-shaped, 2.5-4 mm long, 1-1.4 mm wide, plano-convex, reflexed, appressed, or spreading, greenish-yellow to brownish, sharp-edged, with smooth margins, finely-nerved to nerveless, the beaks 1-1.5 mm long, inconspicuously bidentate; female scales egg-shaped and rounded or pointed to awned at the tips, shorter than the perigynia, yellowish-brown to chestnut brown, with greenish midribs, the margins and tips broad, bright white or narrow, opaque or dull whitish; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, sharp-pointed, 1.4-2 mm long.
Two varieties are recognized for BC :

1. Female scales rounded, chestnut brown, the margins and tips broad, bright white.............. ssp. phyllomanica (W. Boott) Reznicek

1. Female scales pointed to awned, yellowish-brown, the margins and tips narrow, opaque or dull whitish............... ssp. echinata

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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

Habitat / Range

Bogs and wet sedge meadows, open forests or sandy lakeshores and streamsides in the lowland and montane zones; ssp. echinata - frequent in S coastal BC, rare E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains N to 54degreeN; ssp. phyllomanica - common in coastal BC; ssp. echinata - circumpolar, N to AK (Aleutian Islands), E to NF and S to MA, PA, SC, IN, IA, ND, CO, UT, NV and CA; Eurasia; ssp. phyllomanica - N to AK and S to CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex echinata

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) 10 437 1590
Slope Gradient (%) 0 6 45
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 200 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 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: CWH(37), ESSF(7), ICH(1), MH(1), MS(3), SBPS(1)


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.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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