Carex wakatipu


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 wakatipu Petrie



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: South Island except apparently Fiordland. Scarce in Westland.


Mostly upper montane to alpine (450-1800 m a.s.l.). The most commonly encountered, large carex sedge found in snow-tussock (Chionochloa) grassland, though it can at times be abundant in short-tussock grassland. It has occasionally been collected from quite low altitudes (< 450 m a.s.l.) on lake margins.


Shortly rhizomatous; very variable in size, tufts dark green, reddish green or yellow-green. Culms 40-500 × c.1 mm, subtrigonous, glabrous or occasionally faintly scabrid below inflorescence, sunk among the leaves or sometimes elongating far beyond the leaves and drooping; basal sheaths dark brown or red-purple, nerves ± distinct. Leaves 2-4 mm. wide, ± erect or spreading, channelled, margins scarcely scabrid at base with well-spaced teeth towards tip. Spikes 4(-6), closely packed, at about the same level on the culm; terminal spike male, much more slender than and usually > female spikes; female spikes male at the base and occasionally at the top, 10-20 × c.5 mm, shortly pedunculate. Glumes slightly < utricles, broadly ovate, usually emarginate, sometimes almost entire, occasionally red-brown, usually very light brown flecked with darker brown striae, membranous, midrib very broad, very pale brown, produced to a short scabrid awn. Utricles 2.5-3/0 × c.2.0 mm, plano-convex or unequally biconvex, broadly elliptic-ovoid, pale brown flecked with red-brown striae below, or darker brown throughout, occasionally almost black, turgid, nerved, margins usually glabrous; beak c.0.3 mm long with a broad, ciliate, shortly bifid orifice; stipe c.0.2 mm long. Stigmas 2. Nut slightly > 1.5 mm long, biconvex, almost orbicular

Similar Taxa

Vegetatively Carex wakatipu is extremely variable. It is chiefly recognised by a combination of having dark green, yellow-green or reddish green channelled leaves which are distinctly keeled on the lower surface; a closely packed (congested) inflorescence with female spikes 10-20 × c.5 mm; and very broad glumes and utricles. The utricles are distinctly turgid. Nevertheless these characters encompass a wide range of variation with respect to growth habit, and whether or not the culms elongate at maturity of remain hidden within the leaves. Much of this variation appears genetic, and distinct races (some of which are sympatric) exist which could be segregated from this species.


October - December


November - April

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from the division of whole plants and from fresh seed. Best suited for a well drained, sunny site but permanently damp situation. This species dislikes humidity.


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).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.

Notes on taxonomy

Carex wakatipu as currently circumscribed is extremely variable and it is likely that further entities may be segregated from it in the near future.



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