Tuckerman's sedge (Carex tuckermanii )

Tuckerman's sedge seeds

Top facts

  • Tuckerman’s sedge is named after an American lichenologist and botanist called Edward Tuckerman.
  • Tuckerman’s sedge is a perennial plant which lives for over two years.
  • Tuckerman’s sedge reproduces asexually.
  • The distinctive female part of Tuckerman’s sedge droops away from the plant.
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Tuckerman's sedge fact file

Tuckerman's sedge description

GenusCarex  (1)

Tuckerman’s sedge (Carex tuckermanii) is a perennial plant which gains its common and scientific names from Edward Tuckerman, who was an American lichenologist and botanist (4) (5).

Tuckerman’s sedge grows in compact tufts (2), and its hollow stems, known as ‘culms’, have a triangular cross-section (2) (6) and may be erect or arching (5). The flat (3) (5) (7), slender leaves (5) are mostly dark green (2), but are red-purple at the base (2) (3) (5) (6) (8).

As in other members of the Cyperaceae family, Tuckerman’s sedge has small, inconspicuous flowers which are arranged in erect ‘spikes’ (9). Groups of spikes are clustered together to form inflorescences (9), with between one and three male spikes at the tip (2) and two to six female spikes below (7). The male spikes are usually yellow-brown or purple-brown (6), and the female spikes are oblong or cylindrical (8) and may droop from the plant (2) (5). At the base of the female spike are leaf-like bracts which are significantly longer than the spike (3) (5).

The fruit of Tuckerman’s sedge, known as an ‘achene’, is dry and single seeded (2) (6). The achene of this species is brown and triangular (2), with an indentation on one surface (5) (6) (7) (8). Similarly to other Carex species, the achene of Tuckerman’s sedge is enclosed within a sac-like structure known as the ‘perigynium’, which is golden-brown, smooth and oval shaped in this species (6). There are roughly 30 perigynia on each spike (6) which are ‘inflated’, meaning that there is space between the perigynia and the achenes (5) (8). Extending from the tip of each perigynium are two short (5) (6) (8), straight (2) (3) appendages, which are known as ‘beak teeth’ (6),  and there are three stigmas protruding from the interior of the perigynium (3) (6).

Also known as
bent-seeded hop sedge.
Stem length: 40 - 120 cm (2) (3)
Inflorescence length: 10 - 35 cm (3)

Tuckerman's sedge biology

Like other Carex species, Tuckerman’s sedge has unisexual flowers, with each individual flower containing either male or female reproductive organs (5) (9). The fruit of Tuckerman’s sedge appears between June and August (2) (3).

As perennial species, all sedges usually live for more than two years (9).  Similarly to other Carex species (9), Tuckerman’s sedge reproduces asexually, growing new stems from underground roots called ‘rhizomes(7).


Tuckerman's sedge range

The range of Tuckerman’s sedge extends across the north-eastern United States, from Minnesota and Iowa in the west to Maine, New Jersey and North Carolina in the east (5) (10). In Canada, it is found in Ontario and Quebec (10). It is thought that this species previously existed in Iowa, although it may now be locally extinct (5).


Tuckerman's sedge habitat

Tuckerman’s sedge inhabits the shorelines of streams, ponds (2) and lakes (5), swamps (2) (3) (5) (7), thickets (2) (3), meadows (2) and bogs (7). This species is found up to elevations of 500 metres (2).


Tuckerman's sedge status

The Tuckerman's sedge has not yet been assessed by the IUCN.


Tuckerman's sedge threats

There are not currently thought to be any threats to Tuckerman’s sedge, although future threats could include habitat degradation, changes in water quality, land use alteration and invasive species (5).


Tuckerman's sedge conservation

Tuckerman’s sedge is listed on the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act as endangered, which offers it protection from being killed or collected, and its possession or sale is illegal. It also discourages activities which are detrimental to the habitat of this species. Future management techniques may also involve invasive species monitoring and preservation of water quality (5).


Find out more

Find out more about Tuckerman’s sedge:

Find out more about North American plant conservation:



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A simple single-seeded fruit that falls from the plant in one piece. Achenes usually in occur in clusters.
Of asexual reproduction: reproduction that does not involve the formation of sex cells (‘gametes’). In many species, asexual reproduction can occur by existing cells splitting into two, or part of the organism breaking away and developing into a separate individual. Some animals, including vertebrates, can also develop from unfertilised eggs; this process, known as parthenogenesis, gives rise to offspring that are genetically identical to the parent.
Modified leaf at the base of a flower.
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
Describes species introduced deliberately or unintentionally outside their natural habitats where they have the ability to establish themselves, invade, outcompete natives and take over the new environments.
A plant that normally lives for more than two years. After an initial period, the plant usually produces flowers once a year.
An underground, horizontal plant stem that produces roots and shoots.
The part of the female reproductive organ of a flower which receives the pollen, and on which the pollen germinates (starts growing).


  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (January, 2014)
  2. Flora of North America - Tuckerman’s sedge (Carex tuckermanii) (January, 2014)
  3. Plattsburgh State University of New York - Tuckerman’s sedge (January, 2014)
  4. University of Wisconsin - Carex tuckermanii  (January, 2014)
  5. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife - Tuckerman’s sedge (January, 2014)
  6. Mohlenbrock, R.H. (1999) Sedges: Carex. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, Illinois.
  7. Rhoads, A.F. and Block, T.A. (2007) The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  8. Hipp, A.L. (2008) Sedges: An Introduction to the Genus Carex (Cyperaceae). University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin.
  9. Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  10. United States Department of Agriculture - Tuckerman’s sedge (January, 2014)

Image credit

Tuckerman's sedge seeds  
Tuckerman's sedge seeds

© Louis-M. Landry

Louis-M. Landry


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