Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Collins's Sedge - Carex collinsii   Nuttall
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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DistributionPrimarily Sandhills; disjunct to Henderson and Transylvania counties in the Mountains.

RI to eastern PA, sporadically south to west-central GA, mostly on the Coastal Plain; reportedly also in AL and TN.
AbundanceUncommon in the Sandhills; rare in the southeastern Mountains. Populations are generally small or scattered plants; occasionally as many as 50 plants. This is a Watch List species. RAB (1968) only listed 4 counties, and 30-40 years ago this was thought to be a very rare species in NC; much survey work in the Sandhills has shown that it is not an overly scarce species there now.
HabitatWet, sphagnous, blackwater streamheads in the Sandhills, often with Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides); montane seepage bogs.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting late May-July.
IdentificationAmong NC Carex species, Collins's Sedge is highly distinctive due to the inflorescence of well-spaced spikes composed of 5-10 reflexed florets. Perigynia are very slender and taper to a long beak.
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 RankS3
Global RankG4
State StatusW1
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empOBL link
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B.A. SorrieRichmond County, 2010, Sandhills Game Land, tributary of Naked Creek, S of Naked Creek Lane. RichmondPhoto_natural
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