Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Walter's Sedge - Carex striata   Michaux
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Carex with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Cyperaceae
DistributionCoastal Plain, but not found (or known yet) in the northeastern counties. Website editors do not recognize infraspecific taxa (see Identification).

The overall species ranges on the Coastal Plain from southern NH to central FL. If recognized, var. striata ranges from NJ to FL; while var. brevis ranges from NH to SC.
AbundanceFrequent, perhaps even common locally. Usually forms colonies or patches that may be locally dominant. Presumably scarce in the north-central part of the NC range -- i.e., away from the Sandhills and lower Coastal Plain.
HabitatOpenings in blackwater swamp forests (Red Maple-Swamp Tupelo-cypress), beaver ponds, clay-based Carolina Bays, wet depressions in pine savannas. Thus, only in acidic waters/soils.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting May-June.
IdentificationCarex striata var. striata can be told from var. brevis only by smooth perigynia (vs. pubescent). They occupy identical habitats and may occur together. An examination of NC and SC specimens in 2018 showed that pubescence is variable: while most specimens had glabrous perigynia, others had glabrous bodies and pubescent beaks, others half pubescent bodies with pubescent beaks, and a few were wholly pubescent.
Taxonomic CommentsIn RAB (1968), this species went by the name C. walteriana, a younger synonym. FNA does not recognize any varieties, and we concur, since they do not sort out very well.

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 RankS3S4
Global RankG4G5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieSame data, large population. HokePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieMcCain Bay, post-fire, May 2017. HokePhoto_natural
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