Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Drooping Sedge - Carex prasina   Wahlenberg
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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AuthorWahlenberg
DistributionMountains and Piedmont. A collection from Nash County is at herbarium MO without an image and thus needs an ID check.

ME to southern Ont. and WI, south to GA, MS, and AR.
AbundanceFrequent, though scarce in the northeastern and far southeastern portions of the Piedmont, if even present this far to the east. The website editors suggest a State Rank of S4.
HabitatSeepage areas, springy ground, banks of brooks and rocky streams.
See also Habitat Account for General Sedge, Grass, and Rush Mires
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-June.
IdentificationThe common name is not helpful regarding identification, as there are many NC Carex species with arching or drooping spikes. From all of them it can be told by a combination of perigynia with 2 main veins and no others (or faint ones) versus other veins obvious; and perigynia beaks tapering to a tip and bent to one side. The seepy or springy habitat is a good clue.
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 [S4]
Global RankG4
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