Carex elingamita


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

Common Name(s)

Three Kings Sedge

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 - Range Restricted


2012 - CD, IE
2009 - RC, IE


Carex elingamita Hamlin



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





Endemic. Three Kings Island group where it is present on Great (Manawa Tawhi), North East, South West, West Islands and at least Hinemoa Rock in the Princes group. Naturalised in Auckland City


A species of shaded sites under dense forest, often around petrel burrowed ground, boulder falls and rubble.


Rather leafy, light to dark green, tussock forming sedge of shaded forested slopes and boulder field. Culms up to 1 m x 1.5 mm, trigonous, smooth; basal bracts light brown. Leaves < culms, 5-10 mm wide, double folded, margins finely scabrid. Inflorescence of 10-12 compound or simple green to grey-green spikes, 60-80 x 5 mm, the lower 2-4 more or less distant on long erect peduncles; terminal spike male, remaining spikes female below with upper third or more male. Glumes equal or < utricles, linear-lanceolate, membranous (somewhat chaffy when old) with red-brown flecks, truncate or almost emarginated, midrib prolonged as a rigid, strongly scabrid awn. Utricles 4-4.5 mm long, trigonous, elliptic-lanceolate, strongly nerved, erect or slightly recurved, membranous, grey-green, margins glabrous, beak slightly > 1.5 mm long. Margins glabrous, crura scabrid not oblique. Stigmas 3. Nut 2 mm long, red-brown.

Similar Taxa

As the only wide-leaved sedge present on the Three Kings field recognition is unlikely to be difficult. However as it is now commonly cultivated and has naturalised in at least Auckland City, distinction from the allied C. kermadecensis Petrie, C. forsteri Wahl. and C. spinirostris Colenso is necessary. From C. kermadecensis, C. elingamita is best distinguished by the lowermost spikes being male in the upper third or more of their length (rather than entirely female), utricles 4-4.5, rather than 3.5-4 mm long, and by the red-brown rather than dark brown nut. From C. forsteri, C. elingamita differs by its much smaller stature, and by the crura which is never oblique. Carex spinirostris though similar in stature differs by the distinctly pendulous, red-purple rather than suberect to erect, green to grey-green spikes, and by the utricles which are pale grey to bright red in their upper third, rather than uniformly grey green.


September - December


October - May

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed, Can become invasive. Prefers a semi-shaded site but will tolerate full sun. Can be grown in a wide range of soils. Frost and cold sensitive.


Not threatened and very common but listed because it occupies a small geographic range.

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).



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 29 May 2014