Carex petriei


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
petriei: Named after Donald Petrei (1846 -1925), Otago botanist

Common Name(s)

Petrie's 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 petriei Cheeseman



Brief Description

Densely tufted, erect to loosely spreading small red to dark wine-red tussocks; leaves cirrhose at tips. Spikes 3-6, very dark red-brown; styles 3; utricles very dark red to almost black though paler towards the apex and base.

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





Endemic. North, South and Stewart Islands. In the North Island scarce, known only from the Moawhango area (where it may now be extinct). In the South Island throughout except – apparently – Westland. Scarce on Stewart Island.


A species of montane to subalpine river flats, stream sides, and lake, pond and tarn margins. It may also be found in seepages within tussock grassland.


Densely tufted, erect to loosely spreading small red to dark wine-red tussocks. Culms 60-350 x 0.5-1 mm, glabrous, terete or flattened; basal sheaths light brown, occasionally red to reddish brown. Leaves usually slightly > culms, 0.5-2 mm wide, pink or greenish red, lamina narrow-linear, concavo-convex, grooved on the back, showing 2 conspicuous nerves on the upper surface, margins scabrid, apex acute, curled and twisted when dry; sheaths very wide, about 3 times width of lamina. Spikes 3-6, very dark red-brown, more or less approximate, though usually with the lowest more distant on stiff, erect peduncles; terminal spike male; remaining spikes female, usually with a few male flowers above, 1-30 x 3-6 mm. Glumes < or sometimes > utricles, rather pale brown, chartaceous-membranous becoming chaffy, margins lacerate, apex acute or with the midrib prolonged into a long scabrid awn. Utricles 2.5 x 1.5 mm, plano-convex, turgid, very dark red to almost black though paler towards the apex and base, sometimes light brown throughout, smooth of faintly nerved; beak slightly > 0.5 mm long, usually cream. Stigmas 3. Nut 1.5 mm long, dull brown, trigonous, oblong-obovoid.

Similar Taxa

A distinctive species well marked by the leaves broad sheathing base and their fine, curled and twisted apices, pale coloured glumes, and dark purplish-brown to almost black, narrow-ovoid or elliptic turgid utricles. In specimens with dark coloured utricles the bright red lateral nerves are particularly distinct. Carex petriei is not obviously closely allied to any of the other New Zealand species but is perhaps most similar to C. traversii Kirk and C. druceana Hamlin, species from which it is easily distinguished by the very broad bases of the leaf sheaths, and by the lowest most female spikes borne on stiffly erect peduncles.


October - January

Flower Colours



October - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown by division of whole plants and from fresh seed. A very attractive dark red sedge ideal for a sunny damp situation in most soil types. Has proved remarkably adaptable and drought tolerant though it dislikes excessive humidity.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 60-62

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).


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 19 Feb 2017