Carex coriacea


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

Common Name(s)

cutty grass, rautahi

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 coriacea Hamlin



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 ternaria var. pallida Cheeseman, C. ternaria f. pallida (Cheeseman) Kük.


Endemic. New Zealand: North, South and Stewart Islands from Pureora and the Kaingaroa Plain south. In the South Island widespread though more common on the eastern side.


Coastal to alpine (up to 1600 m a s.l.). Usually in damp seepages in grassland or on swampy river flats, sometimes a persistent weed in pasture.


Rhizomatous; summer-green perennial, in coarse yellow-green, glossy, distant tufts, 0.2-1.2 m high, borne on a hard, woody rhizome 5-12 mm diameter. Culms 1.5-3.0 mm diameter, trigonous, scabrid below inflorescence; basal sheaths membranous, grey-brown, yellow-brown or dull red-brown, margins shredding into fibres wrapped round the culm. Leaves much > culms, 4-9 mm wide, double-folded, stiff, coriaceous, hard, glossy, margins closely scabrid. Spikes 8-15, pendulous on filiform peduncles usually much > spike; 2-6 uppermost spikes male, 2-3 mm diameter, glumes hardly awned; remaining spikes female, occasionally male at the top, geminate or ternate, rarely quinate, lower spikes the longest, 20-100 × c.5 mm. Glumes (excluding awn) < utricles, narrow-ovate or obovate, with a short hispid awn, coriaceous, red-brown, margins narrow-hyaline; midrib broad, 3-nerved, light brown. Utricle 1.9-3.3 × 1.2-2.0 mm, unequally biconvex, orbicular or broadly ovoid, yellow-green or light grey-brown, green towards the tip, faintly nerved but with prominent lateral ridges, margins smooth, gradually narrowed to a short beak c.0.3 mm long, orifice entire; stipe c.0.5 mm long. Stigmas 2. Nut slightly < 1.5 mm long, c.¾ length of utricle, biconvex, orbicular or oblong-ovoid, dark brown to black.

Similar Taxa

Carex coriacea is allied to C. ternaria Boott, C. lessoniana Steud. and C. geminata Schkuhr. From all these species it is best distinguished by the glossy, yellow-green leaves, smooth, yellow-green utricle and by the nut which is usually c.3/4 the length of the utricle. Further Carex ternaria is confined to the Chatham and Subantarctic islands outside the range of C. coriacea, while ecologically C. lessoniana and C. geminata are more typical of lowland wetlands or damp sites within forest. Only rarely do the ranges of C. lessoniana and C. geminata overlap with C. coriacea.


October - December


December - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of established plants. However, because of its extensively rhizomatous nature it needs plenty of room to spread. Although a wetland species C. coriacea will grow well in most soils and moisture regimes. Does best in full sun.


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