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This species is accepted, and its native range is SW. Oregon to NW. California.
A specimen from Kew's Herbarium


Gilmour, C.N., Starr, J.R. & Naczi, R.F.C. 2013. Calliscirpus, a new genus for two narrow endemics of the California Floristic Province, C. criniger and C. brachythrix sp. nov. (Cyperaceae). Kew Bulletin 68: 85. DOI

Least Concern (LC) category of IUCN (2001). The number of known populations is relatively large. Extent of Occurrence is at least 33,000 km2, well above the threshold (20,000 km2) for Vulnerable. In addition, many of the known occurrences are in protected areas (including several national forests). Thus, despite being endemic to the Klamath-Siskiyou and North Coast mountain ranges, the future appears secure for Calliscirpus criniger.
United States of America: California. Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sonoma and Trinity counties; Oregon. Coos, Curry and Josephine counties. Klamath-Siskiyou and North Coast mountain ranges (one anomaly, see Notes).
Common on serpentine substrates in open, fairly sparsely vegetated areas adjacent to streams or on slopes with underground seepage; alt. 200 m to 2250 m. Commonly cited associates include Abies magnifica A. Murray, Arbutus L. spp., Calocedrus decurrens (Torr.) Florin, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (A. Murray) Parl., Darlingtonia californica Torr., Dodecatheon jeffreyi Van Houtte, Pinus jeffreyi Balf., P. lambertiana Douglas, Poa L. spp., Dasiphora fruticosa (L.) Rydb., Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco, Salix L. spp., and Viola mackloskeyi F. E. Lloyd.
Morphology General Habit
Herb cespitose, short-rhizomatous, perennial-Culms (10 –) 20 – 110 cm × 1 – 3 mm, prominently striate, occasionally scabridulous near the apex
Morphology Leaves
Leaves 3 – 6, basal and cauline, striate, 5 – 45 cm × 1 – 6 mm, distal leaf longer than sheath; leaf sheaths green or light brown at base, filamentose, dry and persistent
Morphology Leaves Ligules
Ligule fimbriate with hairs 0.25 – 0.6 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences capitate; bracts 2 – 5, sheathless, scale-like, 0.3 – 1.0 (– 1.3) cm, rarely green and large, sometimes mucronate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Spikelets
Spikelets 5 – 30 or more, oblong-lanceoloid, 5 – 15 mm in flower and fruit, in a dense ovoid to hemispheric head of 1 or more inconspicuous branches; floral scales brown, with pale green or brown markings, sometimes red-spotted, 1 – 3-ribbed centre, ovate-oblong, 0.7 – 5.2 × 1.2 – 2.0 mm, apex acute; perianth bristles 6 (– 12), 4.5 – 9 mm, antrorsely barbed, elongate, straight; barbs thick, long, dense; stamens with anthers 1.2 – 2 mm long; style deciduous, linear, 3-fid. Achenes 1.3 – 3 × 0.7 – 1.1 mm, dark brown, usually dull, smooth, beak short, trigonous, oblong; embryo Carex-type.

There is some confusion regarding the type locality for Calliscirpus criniger as there is a Red Mountain in both Humboldt and Mendocino counties, and the type has been cited as being collected from one or the other locality (Purdy 1931; Beetle 1942). One isotype (UC 2028) has conflicting labels citing Mendocino on one and Humboldt County on the other, but it is clear from the label on the holotype (GH), ‘Scirpus (Trichophorum) criniger, n. sp., H. N. Bolander 6475’, written in Asa Gray’s hand that the type locality is ‘Red Mt., Humboldt Co.’. Moreover, Purdy (1931) notes that although Bolander travelled to Mendocino County, he was never near its Red Mountain.

Distinguished by its long ligule hairs, wide floral scales, and strongly scabrous bristles, localities for this species are entirely found within the Klamath-Siskiyou mountain range with the exception of five specimens. Five of these collections are from the North Coast mountain range of Sonoma (Raiche 20425, JEPS) and Mendocino (Gonkin, Hildreth, Knight & Knight 2705, CAS; McMurphy 595, DS; Raiche, Forbes & Zadnik 132, JEPS; Smith 6877, CAS) counties, California. Two of these specimens (Raiche 20425 and Raiche, Forbes & Zadnik 132) indicate the plants were growing on serpentine substrates, a fact cited on approximately 20% of Calliscirpus criniger labels from the Klamath-Siskiyou Range and suggesting an association between this species and serpentine soils (note that only 60% of labels cite details beyond county). However, the fifth specimen, a Modoc County collection by S. A. Plummer in June 1879 (Plummer s.n., A) is anomalous as it is the only specimen of C. criniger or C. brachythrix seen outside the California Floristic Province. Other S. A. Plummer specimens from the summer of 1879 indicate that she was collecting in counties where C. criniger is common. Given that the label for this specimen is in Asa Gray’s hand and it appears that the date might have been added later (a lighter shade of ink), this collection may represent a labelling error.

The specific epithet criniger is a Latin adjective meaning ‘long-haired’ and refers to the fact that when this species was originally named as Scirpus criniger by Asa Gray (1868), it possessed among the longest known bristles for Scirpus. Conveniently, criniger also aptly describes the best character for differentiating the two species in Calliscirpus, namely the ‘long-haired’ ligules of C. criniger versus the ‘short-haired’ ligules of C. brachythrix.

Type: USA, California, Humboldt County, Red Mountain, Bolander 6475 (holotype GH!; isotypes GH!, NY!, UC!).

Native to:

California, Oregon

Calliscirpus criniger (A.Gray) C.N.Gilmour, J.R.Starr & Naczi appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Bolander, H.N. [6475], California Eriophorum crinigerum K001057135
Ames, M.E.P. [s.n.], California Eriophorum crinigerum K001057134

First published in Kew Bull. 68: 101 (2012)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R., Nic Lughadha, E., Black, N., Turner, R. & Paton, A. (2021). The World Checklist of Vascular Plants, a continuously updated resource for exploring global plant diversity. Scientific Data 8: 215.


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