Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Northern Long Sedge - Carex folliculata   L.
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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AuthorL.
DistributionMountains only. All non-montane occurrences are C. lonchocarpa, according to annotated specimens examined at NCU in 2018. RAB records mapped in Cabarrus and Davidson counties are not at the NCU herbarium.

Newf. to WI south to northwestern SC and eastern TN.
AbundanceUncommon. However, plants may be common where found.
HabitatWet soils of spruce-fir and other higher elevation forests; also in bogs and other wetlands (of a wide variety) in middle elevations.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-July.
IdentificationCarex folliculata can be told from lonchocarpa, which occurs only in the Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont, by larger achenes (3.4-4.5 mm long vs. 2.3-3.8 mm long). The lowermost female spike is usually arching or drooping in C. folliculata (vs. erect or spreading). Both species are usually detected by their leaning stems with spikes that are about as long as wide (i.e., square in outline), and long perigynia with narrowly winged beaks.
Taxonomic CommentsNone, though note that C. lonchocarpa has been pulled out of this species (broad sense).

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 RankG4G5
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B.A. SorrieLakeville, MA, red maple swamp, 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC

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