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.74
Current conservation status
The threat classification 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) – more information about this can be found on the NZTCS website 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. Please note, threat classifications are often suggested by authors when publications fall between NZTCS assessment periods – a suggested threat classification status has not been assessed by the NZTCS panel.
2017 | Not Threatened
Previous conservation statuses
2012 | Not Threatened
2009 | Not Threatened
2004 | Not Threatened
Endemic. New Zealand: North and South Islands. Widespread from about the northern Waikato South. Naturalised around Auckland City
Coastal to subalpine. Favouring wetlands this species usually grows along rivers, lakes and ponds within sand dunes, tall forest, shrubland, and tussock grassland.
Wetland plant indicator status rating
Information derived from the revised national wetland plant list prepared to assist councils in delineating and monitoring wetlands (Clarkson et al., 2021 Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research Contract Report LC3975 for Hawke’s Bay Regional Council). The national plant list categorises plants by the extent to which they are found in wetlands and not ‘drylands’. The indicator status ratings are OBL (obligate wetland), FACW (facultative wetland), FAC (facultative), FACU (facultative upland), and UPL (obligate upland).
Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte (non-wetlands).
Tufts dense, harsh, 0.25-1.00 m tall, light green, dark green, red-green or orange. Culms 0.5-2.0 mm diameter, trigonous or subtrigonous, smooth or occasionally slightly scabrid towards inflorescence; basal sheaths dark brown, red-, yellow-, or grey-brown, nerves ± distinct. Leaves numerous, > culms, 1.5–2.5 mm wide, channelled, margins closely scabrid. Spikes 4–8, upper approximate, ± sessile, lower 1–3 usually more distant, shortly pedunculate, erect; terminal spike male, occasionally with female flowers intermixed, remaining spikes female, often male at base; lower spikes 10-40 × 4–6 mm, upper spikes progressively smaller. Glumes ± = or slightly < utricles, orbicular-ovate, obtuse, membranous, creamy brown or darker flecked, midrib light brown, 3-nerved, not reaching margin or in some glumes produced to a very short mucro. Utricles 2.0-2.8 × c. 1.5 mm, crowded on spike, spreading when ripe, unequally biconvex or almost plano-convex, elliptic-ovoid, yellow-brown at base, upper half with darker red-brown markings and us. scabrid margins, shining, smooth, abruptly narrowed to a small cream bifid beak c.0.2 mm. long, margins and orifice faintly scabrid. Stigmas 2. Nut slightly > 1 mm long, biconvex, ellipsoid, cream at first, later very dark brown
Carex dipsacea superficially resembles an upright form of C. flagellifera Colenso or C. testacea Sol. ex Boott especially as three species possess channelled leaves. However the leaves of C. dipsacea are usually much wider, and the utricles are biconvex, only minutely beaked, and spreading widely when ripe (somewhat resembling a miniature teasel plant (Dipsacus sylvestris L.) – hence the specific epithet). The glumes of C. dipsacea are ± orbicular, and are scarcely or not awned in contrast to the distinctly awned glumes of C. flagellifera and C. testacea.
October - December
Throughout the year
Nuts surrounded by inflated utricles are dispersed by granivory and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of whole plants. Will tolerate most conditions, but does best in full sun in a permanently damp soil. In ideal conditions this species often naturalises, and it can at times become invasive. Along with C. buchananii Bergg., C. comans Bergg. and C. dissita Sol. ex Boott this is one of the most commonly cultivated indigenous sedges. This species is often sold as C. dissita cv. Bronze Warrior.
carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
dipsacea: Teasel-like (spikes)
Where To Buy
Commonly available from general plant nurseries.
Notes on taxonomy
Carex tahoata Hamlin is regarded by many botanists as distinct from C. dipsacea. In the field it appears distinctive but as observed by Edgar in Moore & Edgar (1970) there does seem to be a gradation between it and C. dipsacea. As the key differences between both species are mostly size related, and no other differences seem stable, it is probably better to regard C. tahoata as a reduced phenotype of C. dipsacea. However, further research into the matter is needed. For further information and photographs, see a separate page for C. tahoata on this website.
Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN 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 dipsacea Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/carex-dipsacea/ (Date website was queried)