Carex leporina


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

Common Name(s)

oval sedge


Carex leporina L.



Brief Description

Dense pale green grass-like tufts or mat-like swards up to 1 m tall, with slightly taller flower stem bearing brown oval heads near the tip.

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



Carex ovalis Gooden.


Locally common throughout New Zealand.


Wide variety of wet habitats from lowland to subalpine, especially disturbed habitats, but also a problem weed in short turf wetland where it can completely displace indigenous vegetation.


Dense tufts; rhizome short. Stems 20-60-(120) cm high, 3-angled, scabrid just below inflorescence. Leaves 1.5-3.5 mm wide, usually < stems, ± flat, ± soft, bright green, sheaths light brown. Inflorescence a compact ovoid head 2.5-4- (6) cm long, of 3-5- (11) approximate, sessile, light green to light brown spikes; bracts glume-like and inconspicuous or > inflorescence and ± setaceous. Spikes androgynous, male flowers at base. Glumes = or slightly < utricles, light brown with paler green to brown midrib, acute. Utricles 4-4.5 × ± 2 mm, ovoid, plano-convex, distinctly nerved, with winged margins almost covered by glumes, scabrid towards the tapered beak of ± 1 mm long. Stigmas 2. Nut plano-convex, ± oblong.

Similar Taxa

Two other Carex spp. have oval spikes (C. scoparia and C. longii). Both these species have glumes shorter than the utricle, so C. leporina spikes appear less compact (see comparison with C. scoparia in photo).


Late spring to early summer

Flower Colours



Summer to autumn

Year Naturalised



Europe, Asia, North Africa

Reason for Introduction

Unknown, seed or soil contaminant.

Control Techniques

Can be controlled manually, mechanically or herbicidally depending on situation.

Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seed dispersed by contaminated machinery or waterfowl.


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 10 Oct 2017