Carex cirrhosa


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

Common Name(s)

Curly Sedge

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

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 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable
2004 - Gradual Decline


2012 - DP, RR


Carex cirrhosa Bergg.



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



Carex cirrhosa var. lutescens Kük. in Cheeseman


Endemic. North, South Island - mainly easterly. In North Island very local from Lake Whangape (near Huntly) to Lake Wairarapa. In the South Island in scattered sites from about North Canterbury to Southland.


Lake, pond and tarn margins - preferring low marginal turf in sites subjected to seasonal inundation.


Tufted sedge forming dense wine red, silvery-grey or yellow-green tussocks. Culms 100-400 mm long, enclosed by light brown leaf sheaths. Leaves 25-200 X 0.5-1.0 mm, basally wine-red, apically silvery-grey, narrow-linear, concavo-convex, margins incurved, scabrid, tip strongly curled and twisted. Inflorescence of 2-5 spikes buried within basal portion of plant; terminal 1-2 male, lower 1-3 female crowded round base of male spikes, 3-8 X 2 mm, lower most spikes often distant, pedunculate, bracts subtending female spikes leaf-like, > spikes. Glumes slightly < utricles, or = to urticle length if awned, ovate-lanceolate, acuminate, cuspidate, hyaline, white or pale pink, midrib often green. Utricles 2.0-3.0 X 1.0-1.5 mm, plano-convex, elliptic-ovoid, yellow-green in lower half and on beak, pinkish brown otherwise, nerved, sessile, margins smooth or minutely scabrid, abruptly narrowed to an acute bidentate beak 0.5 mm, crura scabrid. Stigmas 2. Nut 1.5 mm, biconvex, oblong-ovoid, brown. Flowering. October-January Fruiting. November-February.

Similar Taxa

Easily recognised by the tufted, non rhizomatous growth form and by the distinctly cirrhose (curled) which are wine-red for the lower third and then silvery white for the rest of their length. The spikelets are found hidden within the foliage toward the lower third of the culm. It is perhaps closest to C. rubicunda which differs by its much smaller size, wider blunt-ended leaves, and smooth or faintly nerved utricles which are < 2 mm long, and narrowed to a minute 0.3 mm long beak.


No information available


No information available

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed and the division of whole plants. Prefers moist soils, with a sunny aspect, free from weeds.


Habitat loss as a consequence of taller and faster growing weeds encroaching on the lake side marginal turf communities this sedge evidentally prefers. This species is also threatened by changes in lake levels and seasonal water regimes as a consequence of dams and water abstraction.

Chromosome No.

2n = 68

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Nuts surrounded by inflated utricles are dispersed by granivory and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).



Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (10 August 2006). Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970)

References and further reading

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

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 18 Jun 2015