Saturday 25 May
Starved wood-sedge (Carex depauperata)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Starved wood-sedge fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Starved wood-sedge description
Starved wood-sedge is one of Europe's rarest sedges (4). It characteristically produces few flowers and has very large fruits (called utricles) (5). It grows in dense clumps (5) and has green or yellowish-green leaves (2), which are 2-4 mm wide (6), have shiny reddish sheaths (2), and stay green throughout winter (5). The leaves are fairly erect, and droop at the tips (5).
- Stem height: 30 - 100 cm (2)
Starved wood-sedge biology
This perennial species flowers in April and May, and the seeds are shed from October to March (3). It is unusual amongst British sedges as it produces very few large seeds (3). Plants usually begin to flower in the second or third year of life (5). The tall stems that support the inflorescences of flowers are thought to be an adaptation to disperse the seeds away from the parent plant (3). Large plants can produce up to 200 inflorescences when growing in good light (5). Seed production is good, however the means of seed dispersal is not known; it is thought that rodents and other seed-eaters may be important, and that after heavy rain the flow of water could occasionally help to spread the seeds (5).
Plants growing in cultivation are known to have lived for 25 years, although in the wild the longest life-span recorded is 13 years; most specimens, however, live for just 2- 5 years (5). This species is able to survive periods when the tree canopy closes, as the seeds can stay dormant in the soil for a considerable length of time, germinating when conditions become suitable once again (3). It is possible that the seeds may remain in a viable but dormant state for as long as 20 years (5).Top
Starved wood-sedge range
This species has only ever been recorded from 14 sites in Britain (5): in Kent, Dorset, Anglesey, Surrey, Somerset and Edinburgh (5). At present just two sites continue to support native populations of the species, one in Surrey, the other in Somerset (3). Two further sites have been the recipients of translocated populations (5). Elsewhere, the species has a wide distribution in Europe and Asia, with strongholds in Spain and France, although it is rare in many countries (5).Top
Starved wood-sedge habitat
Starved wood-sedge inhabits dry, often calcareous brown-earth soils (5), and typically occurs in gaps and on tracks in broadleaved woodlands, and more rarely on rocky outcrops (3) and at the bases of hedgerows (5). It fares well in full-sunlight but can tolerate a level of shade (5).Top
Starved wood-sedge status
Classified as Critically Endangered in Great Britain and fully protected by Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (3).Top
Starved wood-sedge threats
The causes of the loss of this species from 10 sites are not known. A lack of suitable management resulting in an increase in shade, and forestry operations are thought to have been responsible at other sites (5). At present, this sedge is threatened by unsuitable management of woodlands, resulting in over-shading or an increase in competition from other plants. Over-grazing, damage by vehicles and landslips are also threats (5).Top
Starved wood-sedge conservation
The remaining sites are managed in order to provide suitable conditions for the species to survive. Management to open up the canopy has been recommended on a five-year cycle (5); this may also encourage the species to return from the dormant seed bank (3). A population in Somerset occurs within a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and therefore benefits from a level of protection (3). Furthermore, Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity, has included starved wood sedge in its 'Back from the Brink' programme (7), and carries out annual monitoring (5). Cultivated stocks exist, and seeds have been put into the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic gardens, Kew (5).Top
Find out more
For more on Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity see:
For more on this species see the book: New Atlas of the Flora of Britain and Ireland, by Preston, C. D., Pearman, D. A., Dines, T. D. (2002). Published by Oxford University Press, London.
Information jointly authenticated by Tim Rich of the National Museums and Galleries of Wales, and Plantlife.Top
- Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
- The reproductive shoot of the plant, which bears flowers (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
- Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
- The transfer of individuals of living organisms from one area with release or planting in another.
- National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2002) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
- Rose, F. (1989) Colour identification guide to the grasses, sedges, rushes, and ferns of the British Isles and North-west Europe. Viking, London
- Wigginton, M. J. (1999) British Red Data Books 1; Vascular Plants. 3rd Edition.
- Marren, P. Back from the Brink in Britain. Plant Talk On-line (September 2002): http://www.plant-talk.org
- Rich. T. C. G. and Birkinshaw, C. F. (2001) Conservation of Britain's biodiversity: Carex depauperata With. (Cyperaceae), Starved Wood-sedge. Watsonia23: 401-411.
- Fitter, R. and Fitter, A. (1984) Collins guide to the grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns of Britain and northern Europe. Collins, London.
- Plantlife (September 2002): http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/plantlife-saving-species-under-our-care.html#S
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.