Michaux’s sedge (Carex michauxiana)

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Michaux’s sedge, herbarium specimen
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Michaux’s sedge fact file

Michaux’s sedge description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassLiliopsida
OrderCyperales
FamilyCyperaceae
GenusCarex (1)

Michaux’s sedge (Carex michauxiana) is a perennial plant of bogs and other wet habitats in North America and Asia (2) (3) (4). Its stems, known as ‘culms’, are smooth, slender, fairly stiff, and triangular in cross-section (2) (4) (5). The yellowish-green leaves are arranged around the base of the stem (5) and measure up to about four millimetres in width (2). The uppermost leaves often exceed the stem in length (4).

As in other sedges (Cyperaceae species), the flowers of Michaux’s sedge are small, inconspicuous, and arranged in erect ‘spikes’ (5). These spikes are in turn arranged in clusters known as inflorescences, which in Michaux’s sedge measure up to 18 centimetres in length (2). In this species, the first few spikes on the inflorescence bear female flowers, while the outermost spike bears male flowers (2) (4).

Michaux’s sedge produces dry, one-seeded fruits, or ‘achenes’, which are oblong or egg-shaped (4) and up to three millimetres in length (2). As in other Carex species, each achene is enclosed within a sac-like structure known as a ‘perigynium’, which in Michaux’s sedge is yellowish-green and covered in veins. The perigynium of this species is quite narrow and tapers towards the tip, where it divides into two “teeth” (2) (4).

Synonyms
Carex abacta, Carex dolichocarpa, Carex rostrata.
Size
Stem length: 15 - 70 cm (2)
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Michaux’s sedge biology

Very little information is available on the biology of Michaux’s sedge. However, like other Carex species, it produces separate male and female flowers (5). Michaux’s sedge is reported to fruit in late spring and summer (2), from around June to September (4).

Like other sedges, Michaux’s sedge can produce new shoots from creeping underground stems known as rhizomes (5).

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Michaux’s sedge range

Michaux’s sedge occurs in central and eastern Canada and the north-central and north-eastern United States, as well as in parts of eastern Asia (2) (3) (4) (6).

Two subspecies of Michaux’s sedge are sometimes recognised, with Carex michauxiana michauxiana occurring in Canada and the United States, and Carex michauxiana asiatica occurring in the Russian Far East, Japan, China and Papua New Guinea (6). In North America, the range of this species extends west to Saskatchewan in Canada, and south to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania in the U.S. (2) (3) (4).

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Michaux’s sedge habitat

Michaux’s sedge typically inhabits wetland areas such as bogs, wet meadows and the shores of lakes and streams (2) (4).

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Michaux’s sedge status

Michaux’s sedge has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

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Michaux’s sedge threats

Michaux’s sedge is listed as ‘Endangered’ in Massachusetts and as ‘Threatened’ in Wisconsin (3). However, very little is known about the threats faced by this species, and its conservation status has yet to be assessed by the IUCN (7).

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Michaux’s sedge conservation

There are no specific conservation measures currently known to be in place for Michaux’s sedge.

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Find out more

Find out more about Michaux’s sedge:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Achene
A simple single-seeded fruit that falls from the plant in one piece. Achenes usually in occur in clusters.
Inflorescence
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
Perennial
A plant that normally lives for more than two seasons. After an initial period, the plant produces flowers once a year.
Rhizome
An underground, horizontal plant stem that produces roots and shoots.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
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References

  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (July, 2011)
    http://www.itis.gov/
  2. Flora of North America - Carex michauxiana (July, 2011)
    http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242357330
  3. USDA PLANTS Database - Michaux’s sedge, Carex michauxiana (July, 2011)
    http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CAMI15
  4. Britton, N.L. and Brown, A. (1913) An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions - from Newfoundland to the Parallel of the Southern Boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the 102D Meridian. Volume 1. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.
  5. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Species 2000 and ITIS Catalogue of Life(July, 2011)
    http://www.catalogueoflife.org/annual-checklist
  7. IUCN Red List (July, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
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Image credit

Michaux’s sedge, herbarium specimen  
Michaux’s sedge, herbarium specimen

© New York Botanical Garden

The C. V. Starr Virtual Herbarium of The New York Botanical Garden
http://sciweb.nybg.org/science2/VirtualHerbarium.asp

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