Carex rubicunda


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

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

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 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable
2004 - Range Restricted


2012 - DP, RR
2009 - DP


Carex rubicunda 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 novae-zelandiae Petrie; Carex petriei Cheeseman var. rubicunda (Petrie) Kük.


Endemic. North and South Islands. In the North Island known from swamps in the southern Kaingaroa Plain, the Kaimanawa and Ruahine Mountains, and wetlands within Tongariro National Park. Its exact distribution in the South Island is still unclear. It has long been known from from Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, and has recently (2009-2010) been found at Lake Lyndon (Canterbury) and Lake Wanaka (Otago). It is likely to be found at other sites.


A species of mainly montane to subalpine lake, tarn, and pond margins. Also found in other ephemeral wetlands, often in places seasonally flooded.


Diminutive, shortly rhizomatous, stiffly erect, reddish brown tufted sedge with curled leaf apices frequenting lake, pond, and tarn margins, flushes, slow flowing stream and seepage in montane to subalpine conditions. Culms 10-150 x 0.5-1 mm, glabrous, terete, basal sheaths light brown to grey brown. Leaves much longer than culms, 30-300 x 0.5-1 mm, red to red-brown, rigid, plano-convex, occasionally with margins inrolled, striated on undersides, margins finely scabrid, leaf apex obtuse, twisted and curled when dry. Inflorescence 10-15 mm long, usually hidden within foliage towards base of plant. Spikes 3-4(-6), shortly pedunculate to almost sessile, pale yellow-brown, terminal spike wholly male, subterminal spike female or with some males near apex, remaining spikes female, 5-10 x 3 mm, clustered at the same level round base of male spike, all subtended by leaf-like bracts, these about same length as leaves. Glumes equal to or slightly shorter than utricles, ovate, membranous, nerved, pale pink, maturing brown, with green midribs, apices acute. Utricles 1.5-2 x 1 mm, plano-convex, obovoid, smooth or faintly nerved, gradually narrowed at either end, light brown below, trending to darker purple-brown toward the 0.3 mm long glabrous beak, apex hardly bifid, crura minutely scabrid; stipe 0.5 mm long. Stigmas 2. Nut about 1 mm long, obovoid to suborbicular, pale grey-brown.

Similar Taxa

In some respects C. rubicunda is perhaps closest to C. petriei Cheeseman from which it differs by its red, curly-tipped rather than twisted leaves, female flowers bearing 2 rather than 3 stigmas, and by the scarcely beaked rather than distinctly beaked, grey brown rather than dull brown, obovoid to suborbicular rather than oblong-obovoid, utricle. It could also be confused with C. cirrhosa Bergg., from which it differs by its (usually) smaller stature, and smooth or faintly nerved rather than distinctly nerved, utricle which tapers to a minute beak (0.3 mm long), rather than an abruptly narrowed utricle terminating in a > 0.5 mm long beak. The utricles of C. rubicunda are usually much < 2 mm long, whilst those of C. cirrhosa are typically > 2 mm long. The two species are occasionally found growing together.


October - January


October - August

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from the division of whole plants and from fresh seed. A diminutive species best suited for cultivation in pots within an alpine house or in a rockery. It requires permanently moist soil to flourish and prefers full sun. It is intolerant of much competition and dislikes humidity


A locally common species of suitable habitats within the Central North Island. Some populations might be at risk from horse trampling, vehicle traffic and invasive wetland weeds. Status in the South Island needs clarification.

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 commericially 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