Carex appressa


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

Common Name(s)

southern cutty grass, tussock 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 appressa R.Br.



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 appressa R.Br. var. appressa; Carex paniculata L. var. appressa (R.Br.) Cheeseman


Indigenous. North Island (Cook Strait region only), South Island (scattered, more common in the southern regions), Stewart, Chatham, Antipodes, Auckland and Campbell Islands. Also New Caledonia, Australia and New Guinea. Naturalised around Auckland City.


Mostly coastal, extending to montane in the subantarctic islands. Preferring open situations, usually on the margins of peat bogs or peaty, slow-flowing streams.


Stout, rhizomatous sedge, forming robust, harsh and rigid, dark green tussocks. Culms 0.2–1.4 m tall, 3.0–6.5 mm wide, acutely trigonous, angles prominently scabrid above; basal sheaths shining, light to dark grey-brown, rarely purple-brown. Leaves usually > culms, 3–7 mm wide, channelled, stiffly erect, immature leaves with pungent apices, margins and keel very scabrid. Inflorescence an erect, elongated, mostly compact, stiff panicle 60–250 x 10–30 mm, usually interrupted below, branchlets us. < 35 mm long, more crowded above, appressed to inflorescence axis. Spikes 5–6 mm long, red-brown, ovoid, androgynous, male flowers terminal. Glumes slightly < utricles, ovate, acute, often furnished with a short scabrid mucro, brown with lighter brown midrib. Utricles c.2.5–3.5 x 1.5 mm, plano-convex, conspicuously many-nerved, dark brown; tapered to a beak 1.0–1.5 mm long, margins distinctly toothed, orifice bifid; sharply constricted to a narrow stipe 2–4 mm. long. Stigmas 2. Nut c.1.5 mm. long, plano-convex, oblong-obovoid, light or dark brown.

Similar Taxa

Carex appressa most closely resembles C. virgata Sol. ex Boott, especially as the inflorescence of both species is a stiffly erect contracted panicle, further, both species have similar distinctly nerved utricles. However, C. virgata has more slender culms, narrower leaves and paler brown, less dense-flowered panicles. In C. appressa the utricles are > 2.5 mm long while those of C. virgata are < 2.5 mm long.


September - December


December - June

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. Rather variable and some horticultural selection is warranted. The typical form with stiffly erect, densely compacted inflorescences is perhaps the most attractive.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 60-62

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 (110 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. On the Chatham Islands C. appressa appears to intergrade with, or hybridise with C. virgata.

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