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Kevin Doyle

Broad-leaf Sedge (Carex platyphylla)

Life history

Species overview

Broad-leaf Sedge (Carex platyphylla), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in rich beech-maple woods with loamy soil. Blooming occurs throughout June; fruiting occurs throughout July. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through early July.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from the similar C. albursina by its glaucous leaves, peduncled male spikelet, and smooth sheaths.
  • Flower characteristics: 2 to 4 spikes per culm, scattered; female spikes proximal basal, erect; single male spike linear-clavate, short to long peduncled (not sessile).
  • Fruit characteristics: 2 to 9 perigynia per spike, overlapping, ascending, finely many-veined, obovoid 2.6 to 4.2 mm long; beak short curved; achenes ovoid, slightly concave at maturity, tightly fitting in perigynia.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal sheaths white or light brown; culm sheaths green, lighter at base; blades erect, ascending, or lax, grayish blue-green, 10 to 25 mm wide, midrib strongly developed, 2 lateral veins developed, older leaves shriveling or dead at tips.


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


  • Growth form: Graminoid
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Section: Careyanae
  • Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccharum, Fagus grandifolia, Betula papyrifera, Fraxinus americana, Solidago flexicaulis, Aster macrophyllus, Carex communis, Trillium grandiflorum.

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 Broad-leaf Sedge (Carex platyphylla). 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 platyphylla in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
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 rich beech-maple woods with loamy soil.
  • Soils: Rich, loamy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Broad-leaf 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 Broad-leaf 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
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal 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 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

  • Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.


Broad-leaf Sedge Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Broad-leaf Sedge Photo.

Photo by Kevin Doyle, Wisconsin DNR.

Broad-leaf Sedge Photo.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor, Wisconsin DNR.

Broad-leaf Sedge Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Broad-leaf Sedge Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

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