Carex echinata


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
echinata: bristly
echinata: spiny like a hedgehog

Common Name(s)

star 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 echinata Murr.



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 stellulata Good.; Carex stellulata Good. var. australis Kük.


Indigenous. New Zealand: North, South and South Islands from about Te Moehau south. Apparently absent from Marlborough


Coastal to alpine (though mainly montane to alpine in northern part of range). Common in wetlands such as bogs and mires or on stream banks and around tarn margins. Descending to sea level in the south-west of the South Island and on Stewart Island


Loosely tufted from an ascending rhizome; tufts ± flaccid. Culms 35.0-350.0 × c. 0.5 mm, subtrigonous, glabrous; basal sheaths grey or light brown. Leaves usually < culms, 0.5–1.5 mm wide, channelled to flat, margins scabrid, tapering towards the subacute tip. Inflorescence a compound spike 15-40 mm long, green or pale brown, of 3-5 ± distant spikes, utricles widely spreading when ripe and individual spikes star-shaped; lowest spike usually subtended by a filiform scabrid bract c.½ length of inflorescence. Spikes androgynous, 3-7 mm long, male flowers at the base of each spike; plants occasionally almost dioecious. Glumes c. ½ length of utricle, membranous, light brown, with a pale cream or green well-marked midrib and hyaline margins. Utricles 2.5-4.0 × c.1.5 mm, plano-convex, usually distinctly nerved; contracted above to a narrow, dark brown beak with green, slightly or distinctly scabrid margins and slightly bifid orifice; puckered below to a rather indistinct stipe c.2 mm long. Stigmas 2. Nut slightly < 2 mm long, ± biconvex, oblong-ovoid, pale brown.

Similar Taxa

A distinctive species that is easily recognised by the star-shaped arrangement of the mature spreading utricles. This is clearly seen when the plants are viewed from above. Carex echinata has no obvious close relatives in New Zealand and is unlikely to be confused with any of the introduced or indigenous species known from this country.


October - December


November - July (often present throughout the year)

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed and the division of whole plants. Prefers moist soils, with a sunny aspect, free from weeds.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = c.58

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