Carex phaeocephala Piper
dunhead sedge
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jamie Fenneman     (Photo ID #19687)


E-Flora BC Static Map

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

Species Information

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.

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.


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)
2058 55 2675
Slope Gradient (%)
30 0 220

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

182 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 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

AT(114), BAFA(58), BWBS(2), CMA(4), CWH(1), ESSF(268), IMA(41), MH(2), MS(6), SBS(1)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia