Carex pterocarpa


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 - Range Restricted


2012 - RR, Sp


Carex pterocarpa Petrie



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 thomsonii Petrie


Endemic. South Island, Old Man Range (South Canterbury), Central Otago (Dunstan, Rock & Pillar and other nearby ranges).


An alpine species associated with open fell field, cushion bog, and windswept, moist and stable rock or gravel pavements.


Short, squat, tufted, rather coarse-leaved sedge. Rhizome short, 2 mm diameter, woody, covered by fibrous leaf and leaf-sheath remnants. Culms 20-50 mm tall, much less than leaves in length, and almost hidden by leaf-sheaths, triquetrous, scabrid; basal sheaths grey-brown or chestnut. Leaves 20-60 x 1-3 mm, somewhat distichously arranged, channelled, coriaceous, margins and keel minutely though harshly scabrid, tapering to an ± acute apex; sheaths dull brown, membranous ± or equal lamina in length. Inflorescence an ovate, triangular, 7 x 7 mm, brownish head comprised of 2-4 congested spikes, the lowermost sometimes subtended by a leaf-like bract. Spikes 4-6 mm long, male flowers at top of spike, rarely at base. Glumes ± or equal utricle length, ovate, acute, membranous, midrib short, thick set, green, keel of lowermost glumes often rather scabrid. Utricles 3 x 2 mm, plano-convex, elliptic-ovoid, ± papillose, nerved, dark brown with pale brown conspicuous wings, margins strongly scabrid; beak narrow, 0.7-0.9 mm, crura bifid, oblique; stipe minute. Stigmas 2. Nut 1.5 mm, brown, biconvex, smooth, styles persistent.

Similar Taxa

A singular and distinctive sedge which is only distantly allied to C. kaloides Petrie, C. muelleri Petrie, and C. kirkii Petrie, and has a superficial similarity to reduced states of C. breviculmis R.Br. In the Flora of New Zealand, Vol. II it is keyed out closest to C. trachycarpa Cheeseman a much taller and finer-leaved sedge which it does not even remotely resemble. The alpine habitat, short squat tufted growth habit, rather short, coarsely harsh leaves, and large (for the size of the plant) finely papillose dark brown utricles are serve to separate it from most species except perhaps C. kirkii, which is a larger plant, with involute rather than channelled leaves. Reduced forms of C. breviculmis have a superficially similarity but can be distinguished by their distinctly pubescent, pale yellow-green utricles.


November - January


November - August

Propagation Technique

Difficult in warm, wet or humid climates. Best grown in a small pot, kept partially submerged in water. Prefers full sun and a high fertility, free draining soil.


Not threatened. A naturally uncommon species of mainly high altitude schist mountains.

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Winged utricles are dispersed by granivory and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Where To Buy

Not commercially available.


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 30 May 2014