Carex cockayneana


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
cockayneana: Named after Leonard Cockayne FRS (7 April 1855 - 8 July 1934) who is regarded as New Zealand's greatest botanist and a founder of modern science in New Zealand

Common Name(s)

Cockaynes 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 cockayneana Kük.



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 cinnamomea Cheeseman, C. forsteri var. cockayniana (Kük.) Kük.


Endemic. New Zealand: North Island (uncommon, near Wellington), South Island (scattered mainly in the west)


Montane to subalpine. Usually along stream sides in montane forest or in subalpine scrub. Sometimes extending into tall tussock grassland where it grows around seepages, springs or tarns.


Culms 150-600 × 1–2 mm, smooth, trigonous, often drooping; basal sheaths dark red-brown. Leaves > culms, up to 800.0 × 3.0-6.5 mm. wide, double-folded, margins of upper half sharply scabrid. Inflorescence of 2-8 ± distant, red-brown or light brown spikes, the upper sessile, the lower drooping on filiform peduncles; terminal 1(-2) spikes entirely male or with few to numerous female flowers at the top, remaining spikes female with a few ± distant male flowers at the base, 10-70 × 5-10 mm. Glumes (excluding awn) ± = or slightly > utricles, ovate-lanceolate, acute and entire or slightly emarginate, membranous, light red-brown with a thickened green midrib produced to a slightly scabrid awn 1-2 mm long. Utricles 3-4 × c.1 mm, unequally biconvex, fusiform, conspicuously costate when immature, turgid, smooth and slightly spreading when mature, yellowish brown, margins glabrous; beak narrow, 0.5–1.0 mm long, very shortly bifid, orifice slightly scabrid; stipe < 0.5 mm long. Stigmas 3. Nut 1.5–2.0 mm long, trigonous, obovoid-ellipsoid, dark brown.

Similar Taxa

Somewhat similar to Carex spinirostris Colenso which is a more northerly species of offshore islands (especially around petrel burrows), coastal and lowland forest. Carex differs from that species by the stouter, light red-brown or yellow-brown spikes. Carex cockayneana could be confused with C. forsteri Wahl. as both grow in similar habitats (though C. forsteri is more common at lower altitudes) and both have greenish spikes. From C. forsteri, C. cockayneana differs by the utricles which are shorter, smooth (rather than nerved) and have a shorter beak and straight rather than oblique mouth


October - December


November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of established plants. Best grown in a permanently damp situation in a shaded site but will tolerate full sun and dry conditions once established. An excellent plant for growing along shaded stream sides.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.60-66

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.


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