Carex uncifolia Cheeseman. var. libera Kük.
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
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. South Island, North West Nelson.
A species found in open, damp sites such as along stream sides, in seepages and around small pools, ponds, and tarns. Known to range from lowland to subalpine habitats. Often found in montane forest and in tussock grassland.
Shortly rhizomatous; somewhat openly tufted, dingy reddish green, red to red-green sedge. Culms 10-80 x 1 mm, cylindrical, glabrous; shorter culms almost hidden by brownish leaf sheaths. Leaves > culms, up to 250 x 0.5-1 mm, rather spreading but not drooping, somewhat coriaceous, concavo-convex, paler on undersides, margins finely scabrid toward apex. Inflorescence of 3-5, close-packed, sessile spikes; terminal spike male, erect, usually reddish brown to brownish; subtending bracts numerous, leaf-like, glumes (excluding awns) usually slightly less than utricles, ovate, often emarginated and cuspidate. Reddish brown with a distinctly thicker green midrib, sometimes uniformly red-brown. Utricles 2-3 x 1-1.5 mm, plano-convex, ovoid-ellipsoid, light grey-green or yellow-brown toward base, spotted with red or dark red-purple in distinct patches toward apex, nerves distinct, whitish; beak rather short (up to 0.5 mm), slightly narrowed, usually spotted red-purple, margins glabrous, crura shortly bidentate to almost truncate, scabrid; stipe minute, scarcely narrower than utricle. Stigmas 3. Nut 1 x 1 mm. dark brown, obovoid, trigonous with rounded angles.
Carex libera is closely allied to the three other reddish coloured sedges C. edgariae Hamlin, C. filamentosa Petrie and C. uncifolia Cheeseman, which all possess small, congested and approximate spikes. From these C. libera is closest to C. edgariae with which it shares similar concavo-convex leaves that are wider than 0.5 mm, and utricles that are scarcely beaked. From C. edgariae, C. libera can be recognized by the red-tipped rather than black-tipped utricles, and by the female glumes, which are almost the same or of equal length rather than ½ the length of the utricles. In C. libera the male glumes are usually reddish-brown and awned, while those of C. edgariae are creamy brown and usually entire.
October - January
October - May
Nuts surrounded by inflated utricles are dispersed by granivory and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Easily grown in pots and in an open, sunny but permanently damp situation. A very attractive small sedge well worth cultivating.
carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
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 11(4): 285-309.
NZPCN Fact Sheet citation
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Carex libera Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/carex-libera/ (Date website was queried)