Carex L.

This genus is accepted, and its native range is Cosmopolitan.


M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008]

Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlet triangular or biconvex, entirely enclosed in the utricle. Utricle with or without a short or long beak, glabrous or short-hairy, often with 2–3 prominent longitudinal ridges; surface smooth, micro- or macro-papillose
Over 2000 species throughout most of the world
Rare at low altitudes in the tropics and most numerous in cold and temperate parts of the northern hemisphere.
Morphology General Habit
Perennial herbs with short or long creeping rhizomes, often forming compact and dense tussocks; stems triangular, rarely rounded
Morphology Leaves
Leaves with prominent closed, glabrous or hairy sheaths, and with a small rim-like ligule at the junction of the sheath and the blade; blades usually well developed, rarely reduced to short triangular lobes, glabrous or hairy
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Individual spikes either unisexual or with male flowers below and female above or vice versa, more rarely with male flowers at both ends Inflorescence either a single unisexual or bisexual spike or a variously composed panicle of spikes
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers unisexual, set in few- or many-flowered spikes and subtended by a bract usually called a glume Male flower of 3 stamens only Female flower consisting of an ovary with 2 or 3 style-branches, the ovary enclosed in a bottle-shaped prophyll (utricle), and only the stigmas projecting
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Perianth
Perianth segments absent


Cyperaceae, K Hoenselaar, B. Verdcourt & H. Beentje. Hypolytrum, D Simpson. Fuirena, M Muasya. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2010

Morphology General Habit
Perennial herbs, tufted or often with creeping rhizomes
Morphology Culms
Culm triangular or rarely rounded, usually scapose
Morphology Leaves
Leaves ligulate, with prominent leaf-sheath
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences either solitary dense bisexual spikes or much branched often dense panicles with many short sessile or subsessile bisexual spikes of few spikelets, or much less branched, or a few sessile or pedunculate long spikes in which the sexual composition and position of the male and female spikelets varies
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Spikelets
Spikelets always unisexual, the female 1-flowered consisting of an ovary contained in a bottleshaped utricle and subtended by a glume; the male consisting of 1–3 stamens arising from a low receptacle subtended abaxially by a glume and actually represents 3 1-staminate flowers.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Style
Style branches 2–3.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens Anthers
Anthers linear-oblong
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlet trigonous or flattened.
The genus was monographed by Kükenthal [E.P. 4, 20 Cyperaceae-Caricoideae: 1–824 (1909)] who divided it into 4 subgenera: Primocarex Kük., Vignea (P. Beauv.) Nees, Indocarex Baill. and Carex and although these are still often used (e.g. by Haines & Lye) doubt on the naturalness of the first was first expressed in 1936 and now usually only Carex and Vignea are recognised. If the plant has several to many elongate sometimes sessile but usually pedunculate spikes as in Fig 66, p. 440. it is easiest to go direct to couplet 15 in the key.


Cyperaceae, K Hoenselaar, B. Verdcourt & H. Beentje. Hypolytrum, D Simpson. Fuirena, M Muasya. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2010

Morphology General Habit
Robust or slender rhizomatose or tufted perennials or slender grass-like plants (and easily confused with them)
Morphology Culms
Culms scapose
Morphology Leaves
Leaves ligulate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Bracts
Involucral bracts leaf-like or short Upper bracts of the main axis also subtending male florets to form a terminal male spikelet; the rachilla may not be developed into a male spikelet but reduced to a flattened scabrid remnant which protudes from the utricle mouth or so reduced that it does not protrude but is shorter than the ovary or so reduced as to be entirely lacking
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence a slender to large panicle with unisexual flowers or reduced to a single spike; main axis with a succession of bracts, each of the lowest subtending utricles enclosing a female floret; rachilla with an apical partial spikelet of several glumes each subtending a male floret.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Female flowers with 3-fid style Male flowers with 3 stamens
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlet trigonous, often beaked
About 12 species, mostly in southern Africa, a few extending to Ethiopia and 2 in Madagascar.

Native to:

Afghanistan, Alabama, Alaska, Albania, Alberta, Aleutian Is., Algeria, Altay, Amsterdam-St.Paul Is, Amur, Andaman Is., Angola, Antipodean Is., Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South, Arizona, Arkansas, Assam, Austria, Azores, Baleares, Baltic States, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bismarck Archipelago, Bolivia, Borneo, Botswana, Brazil North, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, British Columbia, Bulgaria, Burundi, Buryatiya, California, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Cape Verde, Caprivi Strip, Caroline Is., Central African Repu, Central European Rus, Chatham Is., Chile Central, Chile North, Chile South, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Chita, Christmas I., Cocos (Keeling) Is., Colombia, Colorado, Comoros, Connecticut, Cook Is., Corse, Costa Rica, Crozet Is., Cuba, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Delaware, Denmark, District of Columbia, Dominican Republic, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, East Himalaya, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Falkland Is., Fiji, Finland, Florida, France, Free State, Føroyar, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Greenland, Guatemala, Guinea, Gulf of Guinea Is., Guyana, Hainan, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Idaho, Illinois, India, Indiana, Inner Mongolia, Iowa, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Irkutsk, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jawa, Juan Fernández Is., Kamchatka, Kansas, Kazakhstan, Kazan-retto, Kentucky, Kenya, Kerguelen, Kermadec Is., Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Kriti, Krym, Kuril Is., KwaZulu-Natal, Labrador, Laos, Lebanon-Syria, Leeward Is., Lesotho, Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Libya, Louisiana, Macquarie Is., Madagascar, Madeira, Magadan, Maine, Malawi, Malaya, Mali, Maluku, Manchuria, Manitoba, Marianas, Marion-Prince Edward, Marquesas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Mongolia, Montana, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nansei-shoto, Nebraska, Nepal, Netherlands, Nevada, New Brunswick, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New South Wales, New York, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Newfoundland, Nicaragua, Nicobar Is., Nigeria, Norfolk Is., North Carolina, North Caucasus, North Dakota, North European Russi, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Northwest European R, Northwest Territorie, Norway, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ogasawara-shoto, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ontario, Oregon, Pakistan, Palestine, Panamá, Paraguay, Pennsylvania, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Primorye, Prince Edward I., Puerto Rico, Qinghai, Queensland, Québec, Rhode I., Rodrigues, Romania, Rwanda, Réunion, Sakhalin, Samoa, Sardegna, Saskatchewan, Saudi Arabia, Sicilia, Sierra Leone, Sinai, Society Is., Socotra, Solomon Is., Somalia, South Australia, South Carolina, South Dakota, South European Russi, South Georgia, Spain, Sri Lanka, St.Helena, Sudan, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Svalbard, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tadzhikistan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tasmania, Tennessee, Texas, Thailand, Tibet, Transcaucasus, Tristan da Cunha, Tubuai Is., Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Tuva, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Utah, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vermont, Victoria, Vietnam, Virginia, Washington, West Himalaya, West Siberia, West Virginia, Western Australia, Windward Is., Wisconsin, Wyoming, Xinjiang, Yakutskiya, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Yukon, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Carex L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Jul 1, 1887 s.coll. [Cat. no. s.n.], Assam K001132709 Yes
Johns, R.J. [9120], New Guinea 70309.000 No
Johns, R.J. [9120], New Guinea 64344.000 No
s.coll. [Cat. no. s.n.] K001132706 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3388], Nepal K000767921 Yes
Blinkworth, R. [Cat. no. 3389], India K000767923 Yes
De Silva, F. [Cat. no. 3392] K000767926 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3393], Nepal K000767927 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3396], Nepal K000767932 Yes
Stelfox, A.W. [s.n.], Ireland K000300542 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3400], Nepal K000587395 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3387], Nepal K000767920 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 3390], India K001119308 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3384], Nepal K001119305 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3397], Nepal K000587393 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3389], Nepal K000767922 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3393], Nepal K001119309 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3386], Nepal K000767918 Yes
Rico, L. [1756], Armenia K000297269 No
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3382], Nepal K000767915 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3384], Nepal K000587397 Unknown type material Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3395], Nepal K000767930 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. s.n.], Assam K001132708 Yes
Blinkworth, R. [Cat. no. 3394], India K000767929 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 3400] K000767934 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3395], Nepal K001119310 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3391], India K000767925 Yes
Heyne, B. [Cat. no. s.n.] K001132704 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3398], Nepal K000587394 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3399], Myanmar K000767933 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3388], Nepal K001119307 Yes
Fay, M.F. [MFF272], United Kingdom K000696760 No
s.coll. [Cat. no. 3400] K001119306 Yes
De Silva, F. [Cat. no. 3395] K000767931 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 3384], India K000587392 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3385], Nepal K000767917 Yes
Blinkworth, R. [Cat. no. 3400], India K001119312 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3400], Nepal K001119311 Yes
Blinkworth, R. [Cat. no. 3394], India K000767928 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. s.n.], Meghalaya K001132707 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 3400] K000767935 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3533], Myanmar K001119667 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 3390], India K000767924 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3381], Nepal K000767914 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 3383], Malaysia K000767916 Yes
Fay, M.F. [MFF274], United Kingdom K000696761 No
s.coll. [Cat. no. s.n.], Meghalaya K001132705 Yes

First published in Sp. Pl.: 972 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. & Simpson, D.A. (2007). World Checklist of Cyperaceae. Sedges: 1-765. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne.
  • Koopman, J. (2011). Carex Europaea. The Genus Carex L. (Cyperaceae) in Europe 1: 1-726. Margraf publishers,Weikersheim, Germany.
  • Koopman, J., Smith, C. & Blackstock, N. (2014). Carex tomentosa versus C. filiformis (Cyperaceae): the long-standing debate comes to its happy end Nordic Journal of Botany 32.
  • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2010). Flora of China 23: 1-515. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • F.T.A. 8: 514 (1902)
  • Gen. Pl. ed. 5, 420 (1754)
  • Kükenthal in Engl., Pflanzenr. Cyperaceae-Caricoideae: 67–767 (1908).
  • Sp. Pl. 972 (1753)

Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 4, (1995) Author: by K. A. Lye [updated by M. Thulin 2008]
  • Kükenthal in Pflanzenr. IV.20 (1909).

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Gen Pl. ed. 5: 420 (1754)
  • Haines & Lye, Sedges and Rushes E. Afr.: 368–384 (1983)
  • Journ. E. Afr. Nat. Hist. Soc. 24 (106): 6–18 (1963)
  • Sp. Pl.: 972 (1753)

  • Flora of Somalia

    Flora of Somalia

  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.