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Shore Sedge (Carex lenticularis)

Life history

Species overview

Shore Sedge (Carex lenticularis), a Wisconsin Threatened plant, is found in rock splash pools on Lake Superior and inland on lake beaches. Blooming occurs throughout June; fruiting occurs late June through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late July.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Cespitose; most similar to Carex aquatilis, which has 2 or more male spikelets and perigynia with no prominent veins.
  • Flower characteristics: Spikes erect; proximal 3 to 4 spikes female, base cuneate or atenuate; terminal spike male, usually only a single male spikelet present.
  • Fruit characteristics: Perigynia ascending, green, prominently veined or ribbed, tighly enclosing achenes, thin-walled, ellipsoid or ovoid, dull, base truncate, distended, apex acute, glabrous; achenes not constricted, glaucous.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal sheaths brown; sheaths of proximal leaves glabrous, fronts lacking spots and veins, entire, apex truncate, somewhat prolonged; blades amphistomic, papillose on both surfaces.


  • Blooming phenology: throughout June
  • Fruiting phenology: late June through late August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late June through late July


  • Growth form: Graminoid
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Section: Phacocystis
  • Comments: Associated Species: Primula mistassinica, Agrostis hyemalis, Campanula rotundifolia, Cladium mariscoides, Eriocaulon septangulare, Utricularia spp.

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 Shore Sedge (Carex lenticularis). 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 lenticularis in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
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 rock splash pools on Lake Superior and inland on lake beaches.
  • Soils: Wet, rocky or sandy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Shore 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
Emergent Marsh 2
Interdunal Wetland 2
Inland Beach 2
Bedrock Shore 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Shore 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 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

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.


Shore Sedge Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Shore Sedge Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Shore Sedge Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Shore Sedge Photo.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

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: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition