Carex cremnicola


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

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon

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 - At Risk - Naturally Uncommon
2004 - Sparse


2012 - RR, Sp


Carex cremnicola K.A.Ford



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



None (first described in 2007)


Endemic. New Zealand: South Island. North-West Nelson from Takaka Hill southward to the northern slopes of Mt Arthur


Lowland to alpine on marble and derived substrates. Carex cremnicola is commonly found in open forest and shrubland growing in cracks, clefts, and hollows in karst terrain, at the bases of cliffs, on ledges, and in cracks of sinkhole walls. On Mt Arthur C. cremnicola reaches the penalpine zone and can be found in low shrubland in karst terrain and occasionally in rubble in tussock grassland.


Perennial herb, caespitose, tufts rigid, erect to spreading, often surrounded by persistent dead leaves. Culms 130–1280 ×1.0–2.5 mm, spreading, trigonous, edges smooth, sometimes faintly scabrid on one edge becoming harsher distally, longer than leaves when mature. Leaves 145–795 × 2.0–6.0 mm; leaf sheaths brown, nerves distinct; leaf blades weakly double-folded or channelled, yellow-green to green; leaf margins harshly scabrid; keel and adaxial secondary veins scabrid towards apex; apex trigonous, scabrid, acuminate. Inflorescence of (3–)4–7(–8) male, androgynous, and female spikes; spikes usually borne singly at nodes, occasionally female and male spikes compound; spikes terminally congested, sessile and erect, becoming more distant, peduncled and drooping below (in high altitude plants sometimes all sessile and erect); male spikes 12–86 × 1.0–3.0 mm, linear or clavate, cylindrical, brown, forming a congested terminal cluster of 2–5 spikes, including often small male spikes subtending larger male spikes; usually 1 or 2 androgynous spikes below the terminal male cluster; remaining lower spikes female 8.0–70 × 1.5–6.0 mm, oblong, occasionally clavate, cylindrical, red-brown. Lowermost inflorescence bract leaf-like (62–)200–450(–530) × 1.5–5.0 mm, longer than inflorescence. Male glumes 3.12–5.12 × 1.08–2.2 mm, red to red-brown, obovate-oblong, concavo-convex, subcoriaceous, mid-region 3-veined, green fading to white at maturity; margins membranous, but scabrid towards apex; apex entire or emarginate with a scabrid awn. Female glumes 2.0–4.3 × 0.9–1.8 mm, those with awns longer than or subequal to utricles (those without awns usually shorter than utricles), red-brown (flecked), ovate, concavo-convex, subcoriaceous, mid-region 3-veined, green fading to white; margins membranous but scabrid near apex; apex entire or emarginate with a prominent scabrid awn up to 1.2 mm long. Stamens 3, anthers 2.2–3.5 mm long. Utricles 2.0–3.5 × 0.8–2.0 mm, spreading at maturity, ovoid, elliptic or sometimes fusiform, trigonous, red to black above and white to yellow below, nerved on both abaxial and adaxial surfaces; stipe pale, tapered; beak prominent 0.3–1.0 mm long, narrowing to a bidentate apex with long scabrid crura; orifice scabrid and weakly oblique. Stigmas 3, 1.8–3.6 mm long. Achenes 1.0–2.0 × 0.8–1.3 mm, obovate or angled-obovate, trigonous, brown.

Similar Taxa

Carex cremnicola is similar to C. spinirostris Colenso but differ in a number of inflorescence and vegetative characters, especially features of the utricle The sheaths of C. cremnicola are brown rather than red, and the utricles are 2.0–3.5 × 0.8–2.0 mm, oblong or club-shaped, dark red, trigonous, elliptic sometimes fusiform, abruptly narrowed to a beak rather than 3.2–4.2 × 1.0–1.2 mm, linear, green to brown, sometimes red, triquetrous, fusiform, with a long tapering beak. Both species are allopatric.




January - March

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of established plants. Does best in a permanently damp, lime enriched soil in partial shade.


Not Threatened - but biologically sparse over its entire range. Previously regarded (as Carex (a) (CHR 395744; Takaka)) as Sparse in de Lange et al., 2004, Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Botany 42: 45-76.

Chromosome No.

2n = c.60

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 by P.J. de Lange (1 January 2008). Description based on Ford (2007)

References and further reading

Ford, K.A. 2007: Carex (Cyperaceae) - two new species from the calcareous mountains of North-West Nelson, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 45: 721-730.

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