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Schweinitz's Sedge (Carex schweinitzii)

Life history

Species overview

Schweinitz's Sedge (Carex schweinitzii), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found along spring runs in mesic deciduous forests. Blooming occurs throughout June; fruiting occurs throughout July. The optimal identification period for this species is throughout July.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from the similar and more common C. hystericina by its more solitary culms, staminate scales lacking awns, and perigynia with only 7 to 11 veins.
  • Flower characteristics: 2 to 4 proximal spikes female, erect or often ascending to spreading; 1 to 2 terminal staminate spikes.
  • Fruit characteristics: Perigynia ascending, 7 to 11 veined, narrowly elliptic, round in cross section, strongly inflated, apex tapered; beak bidentulate with smooth straight teeth less than 1 mm long; 3 stigmas; achenes pale brown, trigonous, smooth.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal sheaths pale brown; blades pale to mid-green, flat to W-shaped, glabrous.


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


  • Growth form: Graminoid
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Section: Vesicariae
  • Comments: Associated Species: Carex hystericina, C. stricta, Lathyrus palustris.

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 Schweinitz's Sedge (Carex schweinitzii). 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 schweinitzii in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankSH
Global RankG3G4
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 along spring runs in mesic deciduous forests.
  • Soils: Mesic soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Schweinitz's 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 Schweinitz's 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
Western Coulee and Ridges 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 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

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Buffer management around unique microhabitats such as ephemeral ponds, seeps, etc.
  • Follow BMPs, especially around streams and use care near ravines, steep slopes, cliffs, rock outcrops, etc.
  • Maintain and restore open habitat through selective clearing and brushing.


Schweinitz's Sedge Photo.

Photo © Mary Ann Feist.

Schweinitz's Sedge Photo.

Photo © Mary Ann Feist.

Schweinitz's Sedge Photo.

Photo © Mary Ann Feist.

Schweinitz's Sedge Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Schweinitz's Sedge Photo.

Photo © Mary Ann Feist.

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