Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fox Sedge - Carex vulpinoidea   Michaux
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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DistributionThroughout the state; absent from the Outer Banks. No doubt will be documented from every county eventually.

Lab. to B.C. south to FL, CA, and Sonora, Mex.
AbundanceGenerally common, except infrequent in the eastern coastal areas.
HabitatMoist to wet fields, meadows, clearings, roadside ditches, seepages, and fresh-tidal marshes. Usually in sunny to rather open wetlands.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-August.
IdentificationFox Sedge resembles C. annectens and C. stipata. It differs from C. annectens by the perigynia being dull yellow-green or pale brown (vs. golden brown or yellow-brown). It differs from C. stipata by much shorter perigynia (2-3.2 mm vs. 4-6 mm) and much less bristly look to the spikes.
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)Brown Fox Sedge, American Fox Sedge
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorrieOpening in floodplain, McLendon's Creek E of Glendon Road, May 2015. MoorePhoto_natural

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