Carex punicea


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

Common Name(s)

Red Bastard Grass, Frost Flat Hook Grass

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 punicea 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 rubra Boott var. fallax Kük.; Uncinia rubra Boott


Endemic. New Zealand: North, South and Stewart Islands. From about Mt Pirongia and Te Urewera National Park (though mainly found within the Central Volcanic Plateau) South. In the South Island present in Nelson thence east of the main divide.


Montane to alpine (coastal in southern part of range). In frost-flats, short and tall tussock grassland, grey and subalpine scrub, bogs and mires. In the North Island it has been very rarely collected from cloud forest (Mt Pirongia).


Dark red, wine-red or reddish green, weakly tufted or shortly rhizomatous plant. Culms 150-350 × < 1 mm, rigid, wiry, minutely scabrid on the angles under the inflorescences Leaves 2-5 per culm, much < to slightly > culm, 0.7-2.5 mm wide, rigidly flexuose to rigid, margins slightly scabrid, tapering rather abruptly towards the tip. Spikes 25-70 × 3–5 mm, usually ebracteate, female flowers 8-11, often aborted, internodes to 10 mm long at base of spike, 3-6 mm long above. Glumes = or < utricles, persistent, obtuse or lowermost subacute, coriaceous, red with a pale margin. Utricles 5.0-6.5 mm long, plano-convex, concavo-convex or subtrigonous, fusiform, striated, yellowish green, later yellow-brown, narrowed above to a beak 1.0-1.5 mm long, and scarcely narrowed below to a paler stipe 1.0-1.5 mm long

Similar Taxa

A very distinctive species, easily recognised by the normally dark red to wine-red, rigid, wiry, weakly tufted culms. The species appears to be uniform throughout the North Id (populations there have leaves ½ the length of the culms and 1.0-1.5 mm wide), while in the South Island the leaves and culms are often slightly wider, and plants may occasionally be reddish-green.


October - November


November - June

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by division of established plants - though these may take a while to settle. Prefers moist soil in a a semi-shaded site. However, once established will tolerate a wide range of conditions A very attractive species well worth cultivating. A red form of Carex uncinata L.f. is often sold erroneously labelled as this species.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 88

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



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