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New England Sedge (Carex novae-angliae)

Life history

Species overview

New England Sedge (Carex novae-angliae), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in moist woods, especially in moist openings and ecotonal areas between mesic hardwoods and lower wet habitats. Blooming occurs early June through early July; fruiting occurs early June through early July. The optimal identification period for this species is early June through early July.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from the similar C. albicans by its very delicate appearance and loose cespitose habit, widely spaced pistillate spikelets, and long bract on the lowest inflorescence.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescences with both male and 2 to 3 proximal, female spikes; cauline spikes remote, non-overlapping, proximal 2 usually separated by more than 7 mm, with 3 to 10 perigynia.
  • Fruit characteristics: Perigynia pale green, veinless, ellipsoid, longer than wide; beak straight, pale green, with apical teeth; achenes dark brown, obovoid to ellipsoid.
  • Leaf characteristics: Blades 1 to 2 mm wide, green, equaling or exceeding culms, herbaceous, smooth to papillose abaxially, weakly scabrous adaxially; lowest inflorescence bracts 18 to 35 mm long, 3/4 as long to exceeding inflorescence.


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


  • Growth form: Graminoid
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Section: Acrocystis
  • Comments: Associated Species: Luzula acuminata.

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 New England Sedge (Carex novae-angliae). 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 novae-angliae in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
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 moist woods, especially in moist openings and ecotonal areas between mesic hardwoods and lower wet habitats.
  • Soils: Moist to mesic soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with New England 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).

Ecological landscapes

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

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
North Central Forest 3

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 locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
  • Avoid site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • 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.

Management guidance

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

  • It is likely that large canopy openings will lead to an increase in competitors and, ultimately, a reduction in the population of Carex novae-angliae. Therefore, single-tree selection with harvest intervals of approximately five years are recommended and no cover crop should be planted near known populations of C. novae-angliae (Reznicek and Crins 1993).
  • Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.
  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.


New England Sedge Photo.

Photo © Robert Freckmann.

New England Sedge Photo.

Photo © Scott Milburn.

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