Carex vulpinoidea


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

Common Name(s)

fox sedge


Carex vulpinoidea Michaux



Brief Description

Dense yellow-green grass-like clumps, up to 80 cm tall, leaves and stems harsh to the touch, with distinctive green to orange-brown 'bird-seed' millet like heads.

Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

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



Scattered and locally common in Northern North Island to the central volcanic plateau, also Tasman and Westland, rare elsewhere.


Wet pasture and swampy waste places.


Dense stiff clumps, 50-80 cm high. Stems firm, erect, sharply 3-angled, harshly scabrid on angles just below inflorescence. Leaves usually > stems, 2-5 mm wide, ± flat, strongly scabrid; sheaths long, membranous, transversely-rugulose for 2-4 cm below mouth. Inflorescence a very dense, ± cylindrical, ± lobed, spiciform panicle 6-10 × ± 1 cm, green to light brown. Spikes numerous, sessile, very crowded above, lower ones more distant with setaceous bracts < inflorescence, male flowers at top of spikes, female flowers densely crowded. Glumes much < utricles, ovate with far excurrent midrib. Utricles 2-2.5 × 1.5 mm, ovate, plano-convex, faintly nerved on convex face, tapering to a narrow bifid beak ± 1 mm long with sparsely scabrid margins. Stigmas 2. Nut almost spherical, biconvex.

Similar Taxa

Only Carex with lobed bristly inflorescence.


Late spring to early summer

Flower Colours



Summer to autumn

Year Naturalised



North and South America

Control Techniques

Not controlled in New Zealand.

Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seed dispersed by contaminated machinery or waterfowl.


Factsheet prepared by Paul Champion and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA). Features description from Healy and Edgar (1980).

References and further reading

Healy, A.J.; Edgar, E.  (1980). Flora of New Zealand, Volume III.  Adventive Cyperaceous, Petalous and Spathaceous Monocotyledons.  Government Printer, Wellington.  220pp.

Johnson PN, Brooke PA (1989).  Wetland plants in New Zealand.   DSIR Field Guide, DSIR Publishing, Wellington. 319pp.

Champion et al (2012). Freshwater Pests of New Zealand.  NIWA publication. http://www.niwa.co.nz/freshwater-and-estuaries/management-tools/identification-guides-and-fact-sheets/freshwater-pest-species

This page last updated on 21 Aug 2013