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.
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
Indigenous. Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand known from the North, South, Stewart and Auckland Islands. In the North Island it is known locally from te Moehau south becoming more common along the main axial ranges and on the volcanic plateau.
Coastal to alpine in bogs, mires and other moderately open shrublands overlying poorly drained soils and peat. in the northern part of its range strictly montane to alpine, descending to the coast on the west coast and southern portion of the South Island, Stewart and Auckland Islands.
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).
OBL: Obligate Wetland
Almost always is a hydrophyte, rarely in uplands (non-wetlands).
Tufted perennial sedge. Culms 30-750 x 0.5-1.5 mm, grooved , flaccid or rigid (often with curled or curved apices). Leaves numerous, grey-green or red-green, 50-300 x 0.5-2.0 mm, usually culms, rigid, lamina narrow-linear, flat or concavo-convex, apex obtuse; sheath broad, brown, shining; lower portion of lamina and mouth of sheath minutely serrulate. Inflorescence a terminal corymb, occasionally condensed to form a compact head, or comprising discrete spikelets in 4-6 loose stalked clusters; bracts subtending inflorescence 1-2, foliaceous; bracts subtending spikelets plumose. Spikelets 8-12 mm long, pale and lustrous, 1-flowered. Glumes usually 5, lanceolate, more or less obtuse, stiffly membranous, keeled the 2 lower shorter, the next larger pair subtending the flower, the fifth glume setaceous. Hypogynous bristles 6, plumose with silky hairs almost to the apex, then scabrid, > glumes when mature. Nut 2.5-3.0 mm long, stipitate, pale to dark brown, surmounted by the dried and rigid, long, narrow, smooth or minutely hairy style-base.
Carpha has a superficial resemblance to grasses of the genus Rytidosperma Steud on account of the plumose bracts subtending the spikelets and also the plumose seta that form a perianth around the flower and later the nut. From Rytidosperma it is easily distinguished by the rigidly flat, narrow-linear grey-green or red-green leaves, usually corymbose inflorescence, flowers which lack lemma, palea, and by the distinctive, stipitate nut. Carpha cannot be confused however with any other indigenous or naturalised cyperaceous genus.
November - January
February - May
Pappate nuts are dispersed by wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Although rather slow growing this species is easily cultivated in a pot partially submerged in water. In the wild it is variable with tall and short forms which seem to retain these stature differences in cultivation. From a horticultural perspective some selection from these may be useful. Like many cyperaceous species, Carpha alpina resents root disturbance and can be fickle from seed.
alpina: From the Latin alpes ‘the Alps’, refers to plants growing in mountainous areas
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