Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Southern Waxy Sedge - Carex glaucescens   Elliott
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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DistributionCoastal Plain, including the Sandhills and barrier islands. Found in the Coastal Plain portions of Wake, Lee, and Montgomery counties.

Coastal Plain from eastern MD to central FL, eastern TX, and southeastern OK; disjunct in northwestern GA and central TN.
AbundanceCommon through most of the Coastal Plain. The State Rank and thus the Global Rank should be S5 and G5.
HabitatWet streamhead ecotones in Longleaf Pine communities, wet pine flatwoods, margins of beaver ponds, interdune marshes, powerlines, wet ditches. Occurs in blackwater/acidic-water habitats.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting mid- or late June-August.
IdentificationA common and conspicuous sedge of the Coastal Plain, one that should be learned well. In flower the large, cinnamon-tan male spike stands out, and in fruit the 4-7 drooping, glaucescent female spikes are prominent. Spring-flowering and early summer-fruiting plants of cypress depressions and depression ponds are very likely to be C. verrucosa, rare in NC. Early-autumn flowering plants of floodplain forests and wet upland depressions are likely to be C. joorii.
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)Blue Sedge
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG4 [G5]
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empOBL link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieWet roadside ditch, Aberdeen, Aug 2014. MoorePhoto_natural
Nancy WilliamsonWeymouth Woods, streamhead ecotone, Aug 2020. MoorePhoto_natural
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