Carex penalpina


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.

Common Name(s)

Bastard Grass, Hook Sedge

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Carex penalpina K.A.Ford



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Uncinia fuscovaginata Kük.; Uncinia purpurata Petrie var. fuscovaginata Cheeseman, Uncinia fuscovaginata var. fuscovaginata, Uncinia fuscovaginata var. caespitans Hamlin


Endemic. New Zealand: North Island (Volcanic Plateau, Kaimanawa, Ruahine and Tararua Ranges), South Island (widespread except in Westland) and Stewart Islands.


Upper montane to alpine. In sparse forest and subalpine scrub, snow-tussock and short-tussock grassland, herbfield, and on ultramafic rock, scree and fellfield.


Shortly rhizomatous or loosely tufted, bright green, yellow-green or glaucous plants. Rhizome woody, 2-3 mm diameter Culms 80.0-400.0 × 0.7-2.0 mm, stiffly erect, scabrid below inflorescence; basal bracts dull reddish brown or dull dark brown. Leaves 4-7 per culm, < or ± = culms, 1.5-5.0 mm wide, rigid, curved to falcate, coriaceous, margins usually harshly scabrid but occasionally almost glabrous, upper surface near tip scabrid. Spikes 20-75 × 3-7 mm, linear to subclavate, occasionally bracteate, female flowers usually 10-15, mostly close-set, rarely rather lax, internodes to 6 mm long at base of spike, 2-3 mm long above. Glumes slightly >, = or slightly < utricles, persistent, ovate, obtuse or lowermost subacute, coriaceous, greenish brown, light brown or dull dark brown, rarely bright chestnut-brown, midrib broad, green, margins white, hyaline. Utricles 5.0-7.5 × 1.5-2.0 mm, plano-convex or concavo-convex, ovate or obovate, many-nerved, tapered above to a beak 1.5-2.0 mm long, slightly narrowed at the base to a stipe 1-2 mm long

Similar Taxa

Carex penalpina appears closely allied to the much less common, biological sparse C. purpurata (Petrie) K.A.Ford. Both species have leaf-sheaths, leaves and glumes without any red pigmentation, close-set flowers, utricles that 1-2 mm diameter and wiry culms up to 500 mm long. From Carex purpurata, C. penalpina differs by the culms with are 0.7-2.0 mm rather than c.0.5 mm diameter, and by the glumes which are more or less equal rather than ½ - ¾ the length of the utricles. Carex purpurata is confined to Otago where it is usually found under dry rock overhangs or in grey scrub, while C. penalpina is found in both North and South Islands and is ecologically more wide ranging (see habitats).


October - November


November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by division of established plants - though these may take a while to settle. Prefers moist soil. Once established will tolerate a wide range of conditions. This species would repay critical horticultural investigation. The glaucous form found in northern South Island ultramafics is especially attractive.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 88

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not Commercially Available

Notes on taxonomy

Carex penalpina is a very variable species. A glaucous form apparently confined to the ultramafic rocks of the northern South Island is especially distinctive and may warrant further investigation.


Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970). Fact sheet prepared by Peter J. de Lange 17 August 2006.

References and further reading

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

This page last updated on 26 Aug 2015