Carex dipsacea


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
dipsacea: teasel-like (spikes)

Common Name(s)

Teasel 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 dipsacea 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





Endemic. New Zealand: North and South Islands. Widespread from about the northern Waikato South. Naturalised around Auckland City


Coastal to subalpine. Favouring wetlands this species usually grows along rivers, lakes and ponds within sand dunes, tall forest, shrubland, and tussock grassland.


Tufts dense, harsh, 0.25-1.00 m tall, light green, dark green, red-green or orange. Culms 0.5-2.0 mm diameter, trigonous or subtrigonous, smooth or occasionally slightly scabrid towards inflorescence; basal sheaths dark brown, red-, yellow-, or grey-brown, nerves ± distinct. Leaves numerous, > culms, 1.5–2.5 mm wide, channelled, margins closely scabrid. Spikes 4–8, upper approximate, ± sessile, lower 1–3 usually more distant, shortly pedunculate, erect; terminal spike male, occasionally with female flowers intermixed, remaining spikes female, often male at base; lower spikes 10-40 × 4–6 mm, upper spikes progressively smaller. Glumes ± = or slightly < utricles, orbicular-ovate, obtuse, membranous, creamy brown or darker flecked, midrib light brown, 3-nerved, not reaching margin or in some glumes produced to a very short mucro. Utricles 2.0-2.8 × c. 1.5 mm, crowded on spike, spreading when ripe, unequally biconvex or almost plano-convex, elliptic-ovoid, yellow-brown at base, upper half with darker red-brown markings and us. scabrid margins, shining, smooth, abruptly narrowed to a small cream bifid beak c.0.2 mm. long, margins and orifice faintly scabrid. Stigmas 2. Nut slightly > 1 mm long, biconvex, ellipsoid, cream at first, later very dark brown

Similar Taxa

Carex dipsacea superficially resembles an upright form of C. flagellifera Colenso or C. testacea Sol. ex Boott especially as three species possess channelled leaves. However the leaves of C. dipsacea are usually much wider, and the utricles are biconvex, only minutely beaked, and spreading widely when ripe (somewhat resembling a miniature teasel plant (Dipsacus sylvestris L.) – hence the specific epithet). The glumes of C. dipsacea are ± orbicular, and are scarcely or not awned in contrast to the distinctly awned glumes of C. flagellifera and C. testacea.


October - December


Throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of whole plants. Will tolerate most conditions, but does best in full sun in a permanently damp soil. In ideal conditions this species often naturalises, and it can at times become invasive. Along with C. buchananii Bergg., C. comans Bergg. and C. dissita Sol. ex Boott this is one of the most commonly cultivated indigenous sedges. This species is often sold as C. dissita cv. Bronze Warrior.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.74

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

Commonly available from general plant nurseries.

Notes on taxonomy

Carex tahoata Hamlin is regarded by many botanists as distinct from C. dipsacea. In the field it appears distinctive but as observed by Edgar in Moore & Edgar (1970) there does seem to be a gradation between it and C. dipsacea. As the key differences between both species are mostly size related, and no other differences seem stable, it is probably better to regard C. tahoata as a reduced phenotype of C. dipsacea. However, further research into the matter is needed. For further information and photographs, see a separate page for C. tahoata on this website.


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 25 Jun 2018