Carex cephalophora Muhl. ex Willd. - Oval-headed Sedge


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Carex cephalophora - (image 1 of 4)



Family: Cyperaceae


Section Phaestoglochin


Dry to wet-mesic woods, sometimes in open areas.




ME and southwest Quebec to Manitoba, south to FL and TX.


Tufted perennial, 30-60 cm; stems weakly scabrous above, slightly shorter to more than twice as long the leaves; leaves 2-5 mm wide; spikes in a dense ovoid head 1-2 cm, subglobose, 5 mm, androgynous; bracts setaceous; perigynia greenish or somewhat stramineous, spreading, ovate, planoconvex, 2.5-3.5 mm, rounded or cuneate at the base, conspicuously serrulate distally, the beak a third as long as the body and sharply bidentate; pistillate scales broadly ovate, hyaline at the margin, green along the center, with green midvein and two obscure lateral veins, acuminate to short-awned, the body much shorter than and mostly concealed by the perigynia.


Fruiting June to July

Wetland indicator: FACU

Carex mesochorea is similar but has stems usually much longer than the leaves and has much larger pistillate scales, the body about as long as the body of the perigynium and with three distinct veins near the center. Carex leavenworthii is also similar but has the perigynia widest near the broadly rounded or truncate base with whitish, spongy tissue between the achene and perigynium wall at the base (vs. C. cephalophora with the perigynia widest at or just below the middle, with a rounded or broadly cuneate base and the perigynium wall tightly wrapping the achene near the base). Superficially similar to C. cephaloidea which has the ventral surface of the sheaths very fragile and not thickened at the summit and the upper part of the stem more strongly scabrous. The sheaths of C. cephalophora are firm and thickened at the truncate summit.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY




Michael Hough 2018