Carex picta Colenso
Vascular – Native
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.
2n = c.60-64
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. North (from northern Kaimanawa Ranges south, uncommon) and South Islands
Mostly montane to subalpine in short- tussock and tall-tussock grassland. Especially common in the drier intermontane basins of the eastern South Island.
Patchy, diffuse long trailing light green, grass-like, rather slender tufted sedge arising from a long-creeping rhizome. Rhizome 2–3 mm diameter, woody, often much branched and knotted, with shoots spaced singly and evenly along it, 1.0–1.5 mm diameter at base. Culms rather variable in height, 40-450 × c.0.5 mm, trigonous, flaccid, glabrous; basal sheaths cream, grey, or light brown. Leaves usually < culms, occasionally = or > culms, 0.5–1.5 mm wide, soft, grass-like, channelled, occasionally almost flat, margins minutely serrulate just below trigonous tip. Inflorescence 10-15 mm long, of 1-4 clustered, shortly-peduncled, chestnut-brown spikes, subtended by a green, filiform, leaf-like bract, much > inflorescence, with margins minutely serrulate. Spikes androgynous, 7-10 × 2-5 mm, ovoid, male flowers at the base. Glumes = or slightly > utricles, ovate, subacute, brown, with a broad green midrib and broad silver hyaline margins. Utricles 2.5-3.5 × 1.5-2.0 mm, plano-convex, occasionally almost subtrigonous when mature, brown, shining, with nerves not distinct, margin of upper part finely scabrid; beak hardly developed, c.0.5 mm long; stipe c.0.5 mm long. Stigmas 2. Nut c.1.5 mm long, ± biconvex, elliptic-oblong to orbicular, brown with a distinct stipe c. 0.2 mm long.
Perhaps most similar to Carex inversa R.Br., from which it is distinguished by the long trailing habit, very slender, light-green rather than shortly creeping, dark to yellow-green culms topped by relatively large inflorescences composed of 1-4, clustered brown rather then 2-5 pale green to light yellow-brown spikes, bearing scarcely beaked utricles with indistinct nervation rather than prominently beaked and nerved.
October - December
Nuts surrounded by inflated utricles are dispersed by granivory and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from the division of whole plants and from fresh seed. Best suited for a well drained, sunny site in dry climates. This species dislikes humidity and soon dies if kept to moist. An unusual sedge well worth cultivating.
carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
colensoi: Named after William Colenso (7 November 1811 - 10 February 1899) who was a Cornish Christian missionary to New Zealand, and also a printer, botanist, explorer and politician.
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
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Carex colensoi Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/carex-colensoi/ (Date website was queried)