Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Longstalk Sedge - Carex pedunculata    Muhlenberg ex Willdenow
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Carex with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Cyperaceae
AuthorMuhlenberg ex Willdenow
DistributionSouthern Mountains only.

Newf. to Sask., south to NJ and northwestern SC.
AbundanceRare to very uncommon. The NCNHP database contains 8 records, all extant, and 3-4 are in good condition. This is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatDry to mesic forests, usually over calcareous or mafic substrates.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting April-May.
IdentificationLeaves of Longstalk Sedge are red-purple or red-brown basally, and exceed the flowering stems. The lower spikes are female and occur at the ends of long, arching stalks up to 13 cm (5-6 inches) long.
Taxonomic CommentsCarex pedunculata var. erythrobasis occurs in Korea. Thus, the full species is an example of eastern Asian--eastern North American disjunction.

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 RankS2
Global RankG5
State Status[SC-V]
US Status
USACE-agcpOBL link
USACE-empOBL link
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken 1985 on Mt. Toby, Franklin County, MA. Note culms at right of image. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
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