Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Brownish Beaksedge - Rhynchospora capitellata   (Michaux) Vahl
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Rhynchospora with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Cyperaceae
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Author(Michaux) Vahl
DistributionThroughout the Mountains; scattered in the northern half of the Piedmont and the northern Coastal Plain.

N.B. to WI and NE, south to GA and MS; disjunct to CA and OR.
AbundanceCommon in the Mountains; fairly common in the northwestern Piedmont, but mostly uncommon elsewhere in the northern half of the state. Weakley (2018) states "The only common beaksedge in the higher mountains of our area" (Southeastern U.S.).
HabitatWet meadows or powerline clearings, montane bogs and fens, wet rock outcrops.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-September.
IdentificationIdentification of Brownish Beaksedge must be done with care. In the Sandhills, the closely related R. leptocarpa is present; that species differs in its rather glaucescent stems and leaves (vs. plain green in R. capitellata), lazy stems often parallel to the ground (vs. erect), and restriction to blackwater streamheads and ecotones. R. capitellata has been confused with R. glomerata, which has larger spikelets and much larger seeds.
Taxonomic CommentsBy some earlier authors treated as R. glomerata var. minor.

Members of the genus Rhynchospora -- mainly called beaksedges but also called beakrushes -- are mostly Coastal Plain in distribution and are important members of our longleaf pine savannas, flatwoods, streamheads, depression ponds, Carolina bays, and beaver ponds. They vary from small and wiry to large and coarse. Keys concentrate on features of the achenes (seeds) and the shape and arrangement of the flower clusters (spikelets). The seeds may or not have bristles at their base; bristle number, length, and toothing are critical characters. Size and shape of the seed beaks is also critical. The drawings in Godfrey & Wooten (1979) are extremely helpful. The genus now includes Dichromena, the white-topped sedges.
Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieSame data. Flowering. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC
B.A. SorrieBarnstable County, MA, exposed pond bottom, 1980s. Photo_non_NCPhoto_non_NC

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