Carex breviculmis


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

Common Name(s)

grassland 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 breviculmis 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





Indigenous, North and South Islands. Also Australia, New Guinea, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands


Coastal to montane. Usually in open grassland, gum land scrub, clay pans, on rock stacks, and talus slopes and other similar sparsely vegetated sites.


Shortly rhizomatous; tufted sedge usually forming low-growing, close-packed, bright green patches. Culms hidden among leaves, usually 10-20 mm long; basal sheaths dull brown. Leaves much > culms, 1.5-3.0 mm wide, grass-like, recurved, channelled, margins exceedingly finely and closely scabrid almost throughout. Spikes 2–5, approximate, pale green; terminal spike male, usually sessile; remaining spikes female, occasionally with a few male flowers at the top, 6-9 mm long, ± pedunculate, clustered round base of male spike; subtending bracts leaf-like, very narrow-linear, the uppermost almost filiform, margins finely scabrid. Glumes > utricles, ovate, pale green, almost white, membranous, midrib green, stiff, thickened, produced to a stout, finely hispid awn. Utricles c.2.5 × 1.0 mm, biconvex or subtrigonous, fusiform, pale yellow-green, faintly many-nerved, pubescent all over; beak slightly narrowed, pale green, c.0.5 mm long, orifice ± truncate; stipe c.0.3 mm long, often much contracted. Stigmas 3. Nut c.1.5 mm long, obtusely trigonous, oblong, obovoid, light brown, surmounted by a minute, persistent, dilated style-base.

Similar Taxa

Carex breviculmis is one of the earliest flowering New Zealand species and is immediately recognised by its palen-green, faintly nerved, pubescent utricles.


August - December


October - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by division of established plants. In ideal conditions this species sometimes naturalises in urban areas but it is never invasive. Tolerant of a wide range of conditions except permanently waterlogged soils. However does best in full sun in a free draining soil.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.64

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.  

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