Carex inversa


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

Common Name(s)

creeping lawn 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 inversa 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 smaragdina Col.


Indigenous. New Zealand: North and South Islands


Coastalt to montane - but mostly coastal to lowland. In scrub, open forest, and grassland. A common urban weed of lawns in northern New Zealand. This species has probably become more common as a result of human colonisation of the country.


Rhizomatous, extensively creeping yellow-green to green sedge. Plants variable in size, usually flaccid, forming a matted sward. Rhizome long-creeping, to 2 mm diameter, covered by closely appressed brown scales or their fibrous remains; shoots ± distant, singly from the rhizome, c. 1 mm diameter at base including basal sheaths. Culms 20-450 × c. 0.5-1.0 mm, weak, smooth, green to yellow-green, obtusely trigonous; basal sheaths pale brown almost cream. Leaves < mature culms, 0.5-1.5 mm wide, channelled to flat, soft, grass-like, margins usually smooth or very minutely scabrid towards tip. Inflorescence a pale green or bright green ovate head, c.10 mm long, of 2–5 closely packed ± sessile spikes, or occasionally 1-2 spikes distant from the rest; bracts subtending inflorescence and lower spikes green and leafy, much longer than inflorescence. Spikes androgynous, 4-8 mm long, male flowers 1-3 at base of spikes, occasionally 0. Glumes < utricles, ovate, acuminate, white or pale brown, with a green, faintly scabrid keel. Utricles 3.0-3.5 × c.1.5 mm, plano-convex, ovoid, elliptical, distinctly nerved on convex face, light greenish brown; narrowed to a scabrid beak c.1 mm long; stipe slightly > 0.5 mm long, pale cream. Stigmas 2. Nut c.1.5 mm. long, plano-convex, broadly oblong, shortly stipitate, light to dark brown.

Similar Taxa

Perhaps most similar to Carex colensoi Boott, from which it is distinguished by the shortly creeping, usually flaccid, trailing habit, and yellow-green to green rather than long trailing, light-green (almost glaucous) culms topped by 2-5 (rarely 1-2) pale green to light yellow-brown spikes rather than relatively large inflorescences composed of 1-4 clustered brown spikes. The utricles of C. inverse are prominently beaked and nerved; those of C. colensoi are scarcely beaked utricles and with indistinct nerves


Throughout the year


Throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easily (too easily) grown from fresh seed and rooted pieces. An aggressive plant in most situations which readily spreads from seed and by detachment of the rhizome. This species is unlikely to be deliberately cultivated though it can be a useful ground cover in dry, open situations. Care xinversa is often spread by lawn mowers, and once established can prove difficult to control.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.40-44

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 (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