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Common Graminoid Species of the Northwest Forest

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Carex canescens
Short Sedge
"Grey Sedge"

Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)

Short Sedge Description

General - densely tufted perennial from short, black rhizomes; stems erect to spreading, 10 - 60 cm tall, brownish at base and clothed with old leaves.

Leaves - at stem base, usually shorter than stems, soft, flat, 2 - 4 mm wide, bluish green with whitish bloom.

Flower Cluster - 4 - 8 egg-shaped, greyish or silvery green spikes on erect or arching stalk; lower spikes often separated; male flowers at base of each spike and female above.

Perigynia - egg-shaped-oblong, 2 - 3 mm long, yellowish green to whitish brown with translucent dots or pits, very short-beaked, 15 - 30 per spike; scales straw-coloured, shorter than perigynia; 2 stigmas.

Habitat

Fens, swamps, wet meadows, stream banks and lakeshores; widespread across Northwestern Ontario's boreal forest; circumpolar.

Notes

Also called C. curta or C. lapponica. Brownish sedge (C. brunnescens) is similar, but it has smaller spikes with fewer, loosely spreading perigynia with sharp 2-toothed beaks, and it does not have blue-green leaves. Brownish sedge is common across the Northwestern Ontario region in peatlands and wet meadows. Canescens means 'becoming greyish' and refers to the colour of the leaves. Brunnescens means 'becoming deep brown' and probably refers to the perigynia of brownish sedge, though these are usually pale brown because of the pattern of translucent whitish dots or pits on their surfaces.

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