Carex pyrenaica var. cephalotes


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

Common Name(s)

mountain 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 pyrenaica var. cephalotes (F.Muell.) Kük.



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 cephalotes F.Muell.


Indigenous. North and South Islands. In the North Island known from Mt Taranaki (Egmont/Taranaki), Ruahine and Tararua Ranges. In the South common throughout the main mountain ranges though scarce in Marlborough. Also present in Australia.


Subalpine to alpine cushion and sphagnum bog, tarn and stream margins and damp seepages and flushes within tussock grassland and alpine herbfield.


Densely tufted or cushion-forming dark green to bright glaucous green sedges arising from an ascending deeply rooted rhizome. Culms 10-200 x 0.5-1 mm, terete, smooth; basal sheaths light brown or grey-brown. Leaves numerous, usually < culms, 0.5-1.5 mm wide, involute at the base, flattened toward obtuse or subacute apex, plano-convex, margins finely scabrid. Inflorescence solitary, terminal, usually ebracteate. Spike ovoid to oblong, 5-20 x 5-10 mm, male flowers numerous overtopping the numerous females. Glumes mostly < utricle length, ovate, acute, caduceus to deciduous, membranous, red-brown, midrib light brown, margins hyaline. Utricles 2.5-5 x 1 mm, plano-convex, elliptic-lanceolate, strongly reflexed when mature, smooth, glabrous, pale yellow-brown; beak 1 mm long, red-brown, crura oblique, membranous, stipe 1 mm long or absent. Stigmas 2-3. Nut 1.5-2 mm long, oblong, smooth dimorphic; biconvex in flowers with 2 stigmas, subtrigonous in flowers with 3 stigmas.

Similar Taxa

Easily distinguished by the unispicate, ebracteate inflorescence this separates this carex from all except C. capillacea Boott from which it differs by its wider leaves, and distinctly coriaceous, shortly stipitate and longer 2.5-4.5 mm long utricles. Carex pyrenaica Wahlenb. var. pyrenaica of Europe, Asia and North America has flowers with mainly 3 stigmas and utricles with markedly longer stipes.


October - December


November - May

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from division of whole plants and from fresh seed. Does best in a pot partially submerged in water. Dislikes humidity and will not tolerant drought


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).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available


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