Carex trachycarpa


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 trachycarpa Cheeseman



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. South Island, North West Nelson, Kahurangi National Park mainly in and around Mt Owen, Mt Arthur, Mt Peel and Mt Mytton.


A calcicole of marble and limestone subalpine to alpine habits where it it is found within tussock grassland, herbfield, fell field, gravel and rock pavements, usually in and around small ponds, seepages or flushes.


Grassy, distinctly tufted sedge arising from stout, shortly ascending, woody rootstock. Culms 70-300 x c. 1 mm, trigonous, grooved, mainly smooth though rather faintly scabrid below inflorescence; basal sheaths light brown. Leaves 5-7(-10) per culm, these less than, equal to or even greater than culm length, 2.5 mm wide, channelled, margins finely scabrid toward the apex. Inflorescence a compact head 10-15 x 7 mm, comprised of densely packed light or dark brown spikes. Spikes with 1-3 males at the top, lowermost 1-3 spikes subtended by a membranous, lanceolate bract whose mid vein is extended as a long scabrid awn; this sometimes exceeding the inflorescence in length. Glumes equal to or just longer than utricles, ovate, acuminate or occasionally awned, membranous, chestnut-brown to light brown, keel green, scabrid in lowermost glumes entire otherwise, margins hyaline, occasionally very broad towards glume apex. Utricles 3 x 1 mm, plano-convex, strongly nerved, dull, minutely papillose all over; slightly tapering to a beak c.1 mm long with scabrid margins and an oblique, bifid crura; stipe 0.3 mm. Stigmas 2. Nut 1.5 mm, light yellow-brown, plano-convex, oblong, smooth.

Similar Taxa

The distinctive grass-like tufted growth habit, conspicuous leaf-like bracts subtended the densely packed spikes of the inflorescence, and the finely (minutely) papillose utricles distinguish this species from other New Zealand carices. In Vol. II of the New Zealand Flora series it keys out closest to the very different C. pterocarpa (see comments under that species).


November - December


November - May

Propagation Technique

Little known and not commonly cultivated. Plants grow well from fresh seed and by division of established specimens. Probably best kept in a pot and likely to dislike humid or wet climates. This plant is likely to prefer a free draining highly fertile soil.


Not Threatened. A narrow range endemic abundant within its few known habitats, and apparently secure in all of these.

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 commerically available.


Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (10 August 2006). 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 18 Jun 2015