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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle
608-416-3377

Smooth-sheathed Sedge (Carex laevivaginata)

Life history

Species overview

Smooth-sheathed Sedge (Carex laevivaginata), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found in deciduous river bottoms, sloughs, and seeps with wet or inundated soils. It has also been found in sedge meadows, near seeps. Blooming occurs throughout June; fruiting occurs throughout July. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through early July.

Synonyms: Carex stipata var. laevivaginata

Identification

  • Distinguishing characteristics: Cespitose; readily distinguished from all other species in the Vulpinae section by the thickened, yellow sheath apex, smooth sheathes, and the papillose, epistomic leaves (i.e. with stomata only on the upper leaf surface). Most similar to Carex stipata, which has leaf sheaths puckered or wrinkeled and thin or broken (not thickened) at the apex.
  • Flower characteristics: 4 to 20+ spikes per inflorescence; lateral spikes staminate or pistillate, sessile, prophyllate; terminal spike staminate.
  • Fruit characteristics: Perigynia pale brown, red-brown distally, with red-brown veins, cordate; achenes ovate; persistent style base cylindric.
  • Leaf characteristics: Sheaths all with blades, fronts smooth, lacking spots, veinless, apex yellow, thickened, truncate, cartilaginous, entire; ligules acute, 5 mm, free limb to 0.5 mm; blades yellow-green, epistomic (i.e. with stomata confined to the adaxial, or upper surfaces), papillose adaxially.

Phenology

  • Blooming phenology: throughout June
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout July
  • Optimum time to identify: late June through early July

Other

  • Growth form: Graminoid
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Section: Vulpinae
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharinum, Fraxinus pennsylvanica.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Smooth-sheathed Sedge (Carex laevivaginata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Carex laevivaginata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.


Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in deciduous river bottoms, sloughs, and seeps with wet or inundated soils. It has also been found in sedge meadows, near seeps.
  • Soils: Wet, often calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Smooth-sheathed Sedge. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Floodplain Forest 3
Forested Seep 2
Southern Sedge Meadow 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Smooth-sheathed Sedge. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.
  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.
  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.

Photos


Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo © Robert Wernerehl.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo © Robert Wernerehl.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo © Robert Wernerehl.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo © Robert Wernerehl.

Smooth-sheathed Sedge  Photo.

Photo © Robert Wernerehl.


Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Monday, April 30, 2018
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