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

Carex phaeocephala Piper
dunhead sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #19687)

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Distribution of Carex phaeocephala
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from fibrous roots; stems triangular, 10-30 cm tall, exceeding the leaves.
Sheaths tight; blades folded, 1.5-2 mm wide, borne on the lower 1/3 of the stem.
Spikes 3 to 6, aggregated into a rather compact head, 1-2.5 cm long, unstalked, with both female and male flowers, the female ones towards the tips; bracts subtending the spikes sheathless, reduced, inconspicuous.
Perigynia egg-shaped, 4-6 mm long, 1.7-2.5 mm wide, straw-coloured to dark brown, the margins winged nearly to the bases, the upper 1/2 fringed with teeth, lightly several-nerved on the back, with faint nerves or nerveless below, the beaks obscurely bidentate, up to 1 mm long, narrowly margined and toothed below; female scales elliptical, pointed, brown, with narrow translucent margins and lighter centres, longer and wider than the perigynia; stigmas 2; achenes lens-shaped, 1.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry meadows and rocky slopes in the subalpine and alpine zones; common in SC and SE BC, less frequent northward and on the SW coast, rare on S Vancouver Island, absent on the Queen Charlotte Islands and adjacent mainland; N to AK, YT and SW NT, E to SW AB and S to CO, UT, NV and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex phaeocephala

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) 55 2058 2675
Slope Gradient (%) 0 30 220
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 182 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 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(114), BAFA(58), BWBS(2), CMA(4), CWH(1), ESSF(268), IMA(41), MH(2), MS(6), SBS(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

Additional Photo Sources

General References