Carex allanii


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
allanii: After Dr Harry Howard Barton Allan C.B.E. (1882–1957) one time school teacher, then first director of DSIR Botany Division, and 'sole' author of Flora I, the first in the former DSIR Botany Division flora series.

Common Name(s)

Allans 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 - Data Deficient


2012 - DP, Sp
2009 - DP


Carex allanii 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 to the South Island. Known only from the Old Man Range and several sites on the flanks of the Central Otago block mountains. Specimens are needed to substantiate a 2004 report from the Arthur Range, NW Nelson. Pictures of these plants (above) appear to be similar to Carex enysii.


A shade-requiring sedge usually found at the base of rocky bluffs


Rhizomatous sedge, forming diffuse matted patches. Rhizomes up to 0.5 mm diameter. Basal sheaths red-brown. Leaves 2-4 = or slightly < culms, 0.2 mm wide, concavo-convex to plano(flat)-convex above, margins slightly scabrid (with teeth) towards tip. Leaf-sheaths red-brown, grooved. Inflorescence a solitary spike of tightly clustered flowers. female flowers 1-2, male flowers in a spikelet 3-4 mm long. Lowermost female glume bract-like, upper female glume 3-4 mm long. acute, red-brown, midrib green, extending to a fine scabrid spine 0.5 mm long. Utricles 3-3.5 × 1 mm, somewhat 3-angled (trigonous), ovoid, with 2 lateral nerves, beak 1 mm long with scabrid margins and oblique orifice (beak fragile and easily lost from specimens). Stigmas 3. Nut < 2 mm long, obovoid, 3-angled.

Similar Taxa

Carex allanii is similar to C. acicularis and C. enysii and differs from both species by its rhizomatous habit, very slender leaves and few (1-3) widely-spaced flowers. A first glance this species has the appearance of the exotic grass Festuca rubra subsp. rubra, it is only on closer inspection that the inconspicuous flowers are seen near the leaf tip.


? -November - December - ?


? -November - December - ?

Propagation Technique

Easily grown by division. Fresh seed should germinate readily.


Carex allanii, described in 1962, is known with certainty only from a handful of herbarium specimens. It may be genuinely uncommon, though it was collected once by accident in the mid 1990s (P.B. Heenan pers. comm.) suggesting it might also simply be overlooked. Until further field work is undertaken and backed up by good herbarium specimens, the exact status, and degree of threat (if any) this species faces will remain unresolved. This is why it has been rated as Data Deficient. At sites where it is currently known it appears intolerant of competition from grasses such as Festuca rubra.

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 commercially 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