Carex utriculata Boott - Swollen-beaked Sedge


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Carex utriculata - (image 1 of 6)



Family: Cyperaceae


Section Vesicariae


In the past this species was included with C. rostrata.


Wet soil or shallow water.




Throughout much of Canada and AK, south to DE, IN, NE, NM, and CA.


Colonial by long rhizomes, sometimes forming dense stands; stems 50-120 cm, bluntly trigonous; leaves flat, yellow-green, smooth above, the larger ones 5-12 mm wide; lowest bracts with an elongate blade 1-2 times as long as the inflorescence; spikes several, remote, erect or the lower ascending, the upper ones staminate and 2-7 cm long, the lower pistillate and 2-10 cm long and about 1(-1.5) cm thick at maturity, the lowest one sometimes pedunculate, the others sessile; pistillate scales narrower and shorter than the perigynia, acuminate or rarely short-awned; perigynia crowded, 4-7 mm, the body inflated and broadly ellipsoid to ovoid or subglobose, rather abruptly contracted to a smooth beak 1-2 mm long with short teeth 0.2-0.8 mm; achene symmetrical, yellowish, trigonous, 1.3-2 mm, loose in the lower half of the perigynium, with a persistent bony style becoming strongly flexuous or contorted with maturity.


Fruiting June to August

Wetland indicator: OBL

Similar to C. vesicaria but more robust, with wider leaves (5-12 mm vs. 3-8 mm), the perigynia spreading rather than ascending, and with longer rhizomes. The similar C. rostrata is circumboreal and only ranges south in the eastern U.S. into MN, WI, and MI; it has more or less involute leaves that are papillate-glaucous above and only 1.5-4 mm wide.


Ball, P.W. and A.A. Reznicek. 2002. Carex, In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, Eds. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Volume 23. Oxford University Press, New York.


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