Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Barratt's Sedge - Carex barrattii   Schweinitz & Torrey
Members of Carex with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Cyperaceae
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AuthorSchweinitz & Torrey
DistributionScattered in the mountains; disjunct to the lower Piedmont and inner Coastal Plain. Last collected in NC in 1957 in Harnett County and 1949 in Haywood County. Discovered in the mountains of SC in 1993 at Table Rock at a seepage area at the base of cliffs, giving hope to rediscovery in NC. There are also three counties of collection in southeastern VA, not far north of NC; thus, it could be also rediscovered in NC in the northern counties in the Coastal Plain.

CT and NY south to SC, TN, and AL. Most populations now are in NJ; a quite rare and declining plant over most of this moderate-sized range.
AbundanceHistorical in NC. Known from apparently just four records, one per county. It is listed as State Special Concern - Historical.
Habitat"Open bog" (Harnett County), "upland bog" (Henderson County), "margin of Cataloochee Creek" (Haywood County), and "swampy area along railroad" (Henderson County); no data for Wake County. In the VA Coastal Plain, habitats are "Depression swamps and ponds, boggy clearings, and peaty alluvial swamps" (Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora website).
See also Habitat Account for General Herbaceous Peatlands
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting April-May. Weakley (2018) says "This species flowers and fruits rarely."
IdentificationExcept for the two Haywood County specimens (MIN, MO), all NC specimens have been annotated by Carex experts. It is identified by the dense yellow hairs on roots, glaucous culms and leaves, spikes on arching stalks, and female scales black with pale green midrib.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

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)None
State RankSH
Global RankG4
State StatusSC-H
US Status
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