Carex subdola


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

Common Name(s)


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 subdola Boott



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. New Zealand: North and South Islands from Awanui south to Nelson and Marlborough.


Coastal to lowland in freshwater wetlands, under willow in gully systems, along river and stream banks, lake margins, and in damp seepages, pond margins and clearings within forest. Preferring fertile to mid-fertile wetlands.


Rhizomatous, bright green to somewhat glaucescent sedge forming rather rigid erect tufts. Rhizome 2-4 mm diameter, hard, woody. Culms 80-600 × 1.0-2.5 mm, trigonous, lightly scabrid below inflorescence; basal sheaths light brown, grey-brown or reddish brown. Leaves numerous, > culms, 2-4 mm wide, double-folded, ± erect, keel and margins of lamina sharply scabrid. Spikes 4-8, pedunculate, all ± approximate or the lowest more distant, terminal (1-)2(-3) spikes male, the remainder female, often male at the tip, 30-75 × 4-7 mm, lower spikes often with 1–2 secondary spikes at the base. Glumes < or ± = utricles, ovate-oblong, emarginate with a strongly scabrid awn to 6 mm long, dark red-brown, coriaceous; midrib broad, 3-nerved, green to later light brown. Utricles 3.0-4.5 × 2.0-2.5 mm, biconvex, rather compressed, ovoid, usually cinnamon-brown, with many distinct nerves on each face, smooth, tapering gradually towards the short beak, < 0.5 mm long, orifice entire, slightly bidentate, occasionally faintly scabrid; stipe slightly < 0.5 mm long. Stigmas 2. Nut 1.5–2 mm long, plano-convex, oblong or ovoid, brown

Similar Taxa

Carex subdola can be confused with C. sinclairii. From that species it is best distinguished by the colour of the mature utricles; those of C. subdola are bright cinnamon-brown, and those of C. sinclairii are yellow-brown to dark brown. Smaller specimens of C. sinclairii have glumes without awns, or scarcely awned, and obovoid utricles with only 2–5 prominent nerves, but larger plants have longer awns in some of the glumes and the utricles are ovoid and tapering with nerves as is more usual in C. subdola


September - November


October - April

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of established plants. Although a wetland species C. subdola will grow in most soils and moisture regimes. However, this species does best when grown in permanently damp conditions.


Not Threatened

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