Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Greenish-white Sedge - Carex albolutescens   Schweinitz
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Carex with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Cyperaceae
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DistributionMostly lower Piedmont, Sandhills, and Coastal Plain, but sparse on outer the Coastal Plain north of the Neuse River (i.e., Hyde and Edgecombe counties to the VA border).

MA to WI and MO south to FL and TX.
AbundanceFrequent in the Sandhills and the southern Coastal Plain, but rare to uncommon in the northern half of the Coastal Plain and the eastern half of the Piedmont.
HabitatLow meadows, moist streamsides, openings in bottomland forests, wet depressions, wet ditches.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-June.
IdentificationThe very similar Carex longii has been split off from C. albolutescens; in longii the style base is straight (vs. sinuous) and female scales are obtuse (vs. acute). Plants tend to form conspicuous patches.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species (broad sense) formerly included plants that are now named Carex longii. It belongs to the Ovales group, so exercise caution when identifying.

The genus Carex is the largest in North America, and among the largest in the world. In temperate and boreal regions, Carex is often the dominant or co-dominant ground layer in many habitats. Seeds (achenes) are valuable food for birds and small mammals, while foliage is used by birds and mammals to make nests and as food by mammals. Species of Carex often look vastly different from one another -- spikes erect vs. drooping, tiny inflorescence vs. whopping, culms leafy vs. naked, perigynia beaked vs. beakless, stems densely bunched vs. single, etc. The genus has been divided into many sections (or groups), based on shared characters; some taxonomists have suggested that these be different genera, but that proves unworkable (so far). All Carex share the feature of a perigynium (an outer covering) which completely surrounds the achene (seed). This covering may fit tightly or loosely (like a small bladder), depending on which group or species. Details of perigynia shape, ornamentation, presence and size of beak, number of striations (or veins) are all important ID features. In recent years Rob Naczi and colleagues have stressed the importance of arrangement of perigynia -- whether spiral (3+ ranks) or distichous (2-ranked) -- and have named a number of new species as well as split off some older synonyms. Therefore, RAB's (1968) key, excellent for its time, can only be used in a general way today. Members of some sections of Carex are difficult to key out (notably Ovales, Laxiflorae, Griseae); this is in part due to variation among individuals of a species, or failings of the key. FNA has drawings of most species and some species may be found in two or more places within a key, to acount for variability. New species to NC, and new to science(!), continue to be found in NC.
Other Common Name(s)Greenwhite Sedge
State RankS4
Global RankG5
State Status
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Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieSame data. HokePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieDisturbed moist soil near McCain Bay, May 2015. HokePhoto_natural
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