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

Carex vesicaria L.
blister sedge (lesser bladder sedge)
Cyperaceae (Sedge family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #25121)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Carex vesicaria
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Species Information

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Perennial, tufted herb from short-creeping rhizomes; stems 30-100 cm tall, triangular, rough below the inflorescence, longer than the leaves.
Sheaths tight, the basal ones shattered and forming feather-like patterns; ligules longer than wide; blades 4 to 8 per stem, flat, cross-walled, the margins rolled-under, borne on the lower portion of the stem, 3-7 mm wide, the lower ones reduced, persistent.
Spikes 4 to 7, the terminal 2 or 3 linear, 1.5-5 cm long, long-stalked, with many male flowers and occasionally with a few female flowers, the lower spikes 2 to 4, cylindrical, 2.5-7.5 cm long, with female flowers or some with male flowers above the female flowers, short-stalked, erect to spreading; bracts subtending the lowest spike leaflike, sheathless, longer than the inflorescence.
Perigynia egg-shaped, 7-10 mm long, 1.5-3 mm wide, yellowish-green to reddish-brown, somewhat inflated, smooth, shiny, strongly nerved, abruptly contracted from the broad bases to beaks, the beaks 1.5-3 mm long, bidentate, with straight teeth; female scales lanceolate to egg-shaped, pointed or with short awns, narrower and shorter than the perigynia, yellowish- to reddish-brown, with lighter centres and narrow, translucent margins; stigmas 3; achenes 3-angled, 1.9-2.3 mm long.
The distribution and taxonomy of this species in BC is poorly known.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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

Habitat / Range

Fens, swamps, marshes, shorelines and wet meadows in the steppe and montane zones; frequent in S BC E of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, less frequent northward; E to NF and S to ME, MA, VA, MO, SD, NM, AZ and CA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Carex vesicaria

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) 7 1045 1836
Slope Gradient (%) 0 4 33
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
30 103 212
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 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: BWBS(1), ESSF(3), IDF(1), MS(2), SBPS(1), 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.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Carex vesicaria var. vesicaria

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References