Carex bigelowii

Unless it is in flower, I have trouble with Carex bigelowii (Stiff Sedge), not just because it is rather like some forms of Carex nigra (Common Sedge) but also because the two hybridise (Carex x decolorans). However, yesterday there were some nice flowering specimens at about 800m above Coir’ an Eich. It is usually very much an upland species.

Carex bigelowii 00

Carex bigelowii

Some key things are the clustered flower spikes and the short lowest bract – in C. nigra and C. x decolorans the lowest bract is about as long as the whole inflorescence.

Carex bigelowii 01

Also, the red-purple stem bases and rhizome scales exclude C. nigra.

Carex bigelowii 02

In theory one can distinguish the two parents and the hybrid by checking for stomata on both sides of the leaves: both = hybrid, lower surface only = C. bigelowii, upper surface only = C. nigra BUT C. nigra can have a few on the lower surface. And then there is robust C. panicea in some of these habitats.

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