Carex of Arkansas

Revised October 1, 2012; (add comments about species I to Z).

Carex of Arkansas: an annotated list

This page provides a list of all Arkansas Carex sedges as of 2003. I need to reconcile it with the current list for 2007 from the Arkansas Flora Project as well as my own records. I updated it with a published list in 2004 in the journal Castanea . On March 9, 2003, I started detailed work on the Section Laxiflorae. With that beginning, I plan to treat each group of Carex sedges by the section to which they belong. Most info here comes from my draft manuscript on the genus in Arkansas; that document runs about 115 pages, and contains much info not available here. It will take considerable time to make it available on line. But it has to be done someday! If you want a copy of that manuscript, please email me.

Taxonomic problems have settled out within Carex, as I've worked on the genus in Arkansas since 1991. Yet, within the last two years (2001-2002), additional species new-to-science have been described which occur in Arkansas. Further work on southeastern Carex sedges is expected to turn up more "splinter" species. So far, as I've studied them, these new species seem to prove valid, based on differences in habitat, morphology, and the fact that even a non-university based botanist-specialist like myself can usually recognize them with ease.

Green text will designate species recognized in the above cited checklist.

Blue text will designate "possible additions" to the flora of Arkansas, not currently represented by specimens.

Red text will designate excluded species, perhaps attributed to but not expected in Arkansas by this author.

 Based on Hyatt (1998) and Smith (1994). Will be revised after further research. Starting with the Laxiflorae in March 2003, I plan to move details on each species into a separate page for each section. In the cases of small sections with few species, more than one section may be treated on a single page. My goal in 2003 was never carried out, so it still remains a goal.

Habitats and distributions added March 13, 2008 from memory.

Carex abscondita Mackenzie

...This sedge occurs much more frequently than collections indicate. Find it by looking along medium to larger sized streams along natural levees. It frequents nearby valleys also but is easily overlooked as the perigynia are hidden in the leaves.

Carex aggregata Mackenzie

Infrequent in Arkansas

Carex alata Torrey

Common but often overlooked.

Carex albicans Willdenow var. albicans

...Common in the Ozarks and Ouachitas, this sedge comes up early and frequents bluffs, rock outcrops, ridgetops, and slopes. Its told from most sedges by the fine hairs on the perigynia, which you can see with a hand lens. Its densely cespitose, but sometimes has short rhizomes less than a few centimeters long.

Carex albicans Willdenow var. australis (L. H. Bailey) Rettig

...This plant occurs more commonly in the south, but is reportedly "rare" throughout its range, the southeast United States. It ain't so! Its just infrequent because its infrequently collected, and blooms earlier than most sedges. Its similar to the var. albicans, but has long rhizomes, usually.

Carex albolutescens Schweinitz

Common, but late blooming. Blooms in late May and infrequently into fall or winter.

Carex albursina Sheldon

See section Laxiflorae. Common in the Ozarks in deep valleys.

Carex amphibola Steudel


Carex annectens Bicknell var. annectens

Common in roadside ditches and wetlands.

Carex arkansana L. H. Bailey

Oddly rare despite its name.

Carex atlantica L. H. Bailey spp. atlantica


Carex atlantica L. H. Bailey spp. capillacea (L. H. Bailey) Reznicek


Carex austrina (Small) Mackenzie

Occasional on roadsides, often overlooked prior to 1991.

Carex basiantha Schkuhr

Common, floodplains of largest streams.

Carex bicknellii Britton

Known as the "Texas form" something's out there underCarex bicknellii Britton that's not that species exactly.


Carex opaca(F. J. Herm.) _____

Almost rare, infrequently encountered.

Carex blanda Dewey

See section Laxiflorae. Very common.

Carex brevior (Dewey) Mackenzie ex Lunell

When in doubt, its Carex brevior. Deal with it! Fairly common on roadsides.

Carex buffaloensis not a species

This Carex seems to be a shade form of Carex normalis.

Carex bromoides Schkuhr var. bromoides

Swamps, where it can be abundant.

Carex bulbostylis Mackenzie

Abundant in floodplains outside the mountain counties.

Carex bullata Schkuhr

I've never seen it in the wild!

Carex bushii Mackenzie

Common but local to glade and similar roadside habitats, mainly Ozarkian.

Carex careyana Torrey

Very locally abundant in deep Ozark valleys.

Carex caroliniana Schweinitz


Carex cephalophora Muhlenberg ex Willdenow

Common in woodlands; if your plant came from a sidewalk, tis Carex leavenworthii.

Carex cherokeensis Schweinitz

Common in the flatlands.

Carex communis L. H. Bailey

Locally abundant below cliffs on talus slopes in the Ozarks.

Carex comosa Boott

Infrequent but may be local in large numbers.

Carex complanata Torrey & Hooker

Very common in the southeast half of the state.

Carex conjuncta Boott


Carex corrugata Fernald

Very abundant in flatland floodplains.

Carex crawei Dewey

Locally common on glades.

Carex crebriflora Wiegand

See section Laxiflorae. Probably locally common in the flatlands, but based on my fieldwork in Louisiana, one has to look in the right places. Usually absent in roadsides. I'd look in the upper reaches of small ephemeral drainages. Seems to be absent in larger stream floodplains.

Carex crinata Lamarck


Carex crus-corvi Shuttleworth ex Kuntze

Abundant in the flatland floodplains.

Carex davisii Schweinitz & Torrey

Expect it in the Salem Plateau and in northwest Arkansas. Apparently absent without limestone and dolomite.

Carex debilis Michaux var. debilis

Abundant, but infrequent to rare in the mountains.

Carex debilis Michaux var. pubera Gray

Not on the current list and the variety sunk with the new Flora of North America treatment of the genus.

Carex decomposita Muhlenberg

See section Heleoglochin. Very locally abundant in some swamps. Recent new discoveries with the Flora of Arkansas field efforts!!!

Carex digitalis Willdenow var. asymetrica Fernald

Common flatlands.

Carex digitalis Willdenow var. digitalis

Common mountains.

Carex digitalis Willdenow var. macropoda Fernald

Common, flatlands.

Carex eburnea Boott

Common, Ozark glades and blufflines on limestone.

Carex emoryi Dewey

I've never seen live in Arkansas.

Carex festucacea Schkuhr

Very common.

Carex fissa Mackenzie var. fissa


Carex flaccosperma Dewey


Carex frankii Kunth

Common in the Ozarks. Gives way as Carex aureolensis to the south.

Carex gigantea Rudge

Very locally common in swamps.

Carex glaucescens Elliott

South Arkansas.

Carex glaucodea Tuckerman in Olney in A. Gray

Very common in old roads in Ozarks and elsewhere. Seems to like human footprints.

Carex gracilescens Steudel

See section Laxiflorae. Perhaps not in Arkansas?

Carex gracillima Schweinitz


Carex granularis Muhlenberg

Common, Ozarkain roadsides on limestone.

Carex gravida L. H. Bailey


Carex grayi Carey

Common in flatland wetlands, but rarer south.

Carex grisea Wahlenberg

Common in some habitats.

Carex hirsutella Mackenzie

Abundant, Ozarks and elsewhere.

Carex hirtifolia Mackenzie

Rare and local in Ozarks. Easy to find in its habitat, but prefers limestone areas and very emphemeral streamlets and the upper edges of small stream floodplains. Very specific habitat, but I'd have to show you in the field as its hard to describe.

Carex hitchcockiana Dewey


Carex hyalina Boott

Common, flatlands; colonial.

Carex hyalinolepis Steudel (Shoreline Sedge)

[C. impressa (S. H. Wright) Mack.] OBL. Large sterile colonies of this plant often exist, but just as often the culms hide among the much longer leaves, protected from the would be collector by cottonmouth snakes and several inches of water, leaving the collector on the shore. In addition, large long rhizomes make hands in muck the fastest way of retriving a complete collection; in reality collectors easily collect rhizomes in wet weather by loosing the soil around them. Yanked culms come up rootless and rhizomeless. The name Shoreline Sedge fits this species well. This plant dominates a narrow strip along roadside ditches; natural habitats include wet woods and in prairies as indicated on Sundell 6226 at UAM: "dominated monotypic patches about 15-25 feet in diameter, in wet areas of Warren Prairie." To the inexperienced, the plant looks similar to Carex cherokeensis, which has much shorter, very stout rhizomes with many culms which form circular colonies in mesic but much drier sites than C. hyalinolepis. Once learned, these two taxa are almost unmistakeable with mature collections, especially with the rhizomes present in the collection. It is scattered in the southeastern half of Arkansas, but should be looked for in the Arkansas river valley and in unsearched counties within the existing range, while it is unexpected in the Ouachitas and Ozarks generally. "Ranges from Florida to Texas, north to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska" (Steyermark 1963).


Carex hystericina Muhlenberg ex Willdenow


Carex interior L. H. Bailey


Carex intumescens Rudge


Carex jamesii Schweinitz


Carex joorii L. H. Bailey


Carex kraliana Naczi & Bryson

See section Laxiflorae.


Carex laevivaginata (Kukenth) Mackenzie


Carex latebracteata Waterfall


Carex laxiculmis Schweinitz var. copulata (Bailey) Mackenzie


Carex laxiculmis Schweinitz var. laxiculmis


Carex laxiflora Lamarck

See section Laxiflorae.


Carex leavenworthii Dewey


Carex leptalea Wahlenberg var. harperi


Carex leptalea Wahlenberg var. leptalea


Carex longii Mackenzie


Carex louisianica L. H. Bailey


Carex lupuliformis Sartwell


Carex lupulina Muhlenberg


Carex lurida Wahlenberg


Carex meadii Dewey


Carex mesochorea Muhlenberg ex Willdenow


Carex microdonta Torrey & Hooker


Carex molesta Mackenzie


Carex molestiformis Reznicek & P. Rothrock


Carex muhlenbergii Willdenow var. enervis Boott


Carex muhlenbergii Willdenow var. muhlenbergii


Carex muskingumensis Schweinitz


Carex nigromarginata Schweinitz


Carex normalis Mackenzie


Carex oklahomensis Mackenzie


Carex oligocarpa Schkuhr


Carex ouachitana Kral, Manhart, & Bryson


Carex oxylepis Torrey & Hooker var. oxylepis


Carex oxylepis Torrey & Hooker var. pubescens Underwood


Carex ozarkana P. Rothrock & Reznicek


Carex pellita Willdenow (Wooly Sedge)

[Carex lanuginosa Michaux] OBL. Lawrence County provides the only known Arkansas location of this plant (Russell McNalty 321 STAR, ! peh, ! E. B. Smith, ! Barney Lipscomb; collected roadside 2 miles east of Walnut Ridge on Hwy. 25 in water on April 16, 1968). Demaree (1943) listed it for Arkansas, but no voucher of his report has been located yet. A Missouri site occurs in a large sedge and grass dominated area of a huge area of sinks a few miles from Arkansas. It could occur in north central Arkansas within similar habitat. The author continues to seek out areas with sinkhole ponds, to search for this and other species. Most sinks found to date tend to be dry holes rather than sunny wet ponds. "Ranges from Quebec to British Columbia south to Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California" (Steyermark 1963). The single Arkansas voucher has a 20 cm long rhizome with nodes less than 1 cm apart, rooting at the nodes with 8 cm long fibrous roots. Most leaves are missing, cut off about 3 cm tall, so leaf characters are lost. The 26 cm of culm contains raised nerves, and a 26 cm long bract below the spikelets, about 3-4 mm wide toward the base and a less than 5 mm long sheath. The ligule is not visible without tearing the voucher. The specimen has a terminal staminate spikelet, 2 subterminal (either immature or aborted) pistillate spikelets, and two lower, mature pistillate spikelets. The 3.5 cm long staminate spikelet has acute scales, with those at the tip and base having awns up to 0.3-0.4 mm long. Tinges of a red wine color remain in this spikelet. At its base is a 1.3 cm long pistillate spikelet, and 1.4 cm lower another 1.3 cm long aborted pistillate spikelet. About 5 cm lower on the culm is the mature pistillate spikelet and the second, about 6 cm below it. These are 2.6 and 3.7 cm long, respectively. The pistillate scales have scabrous awns 1.5-3.0 mm long, the base of the awn continuing centrally down the scale as a green nerve to 0.4 mm wide flanked by a thin, translucent wing, 0.5-0.7 mm wide and tinged brown (purple in life?) outer edge. A fine, rough hairness covers the perigynia. The glabrous 0.5-0.8 mm long divisions of the beaks of the perigynia sit atop the 0.8-1.0 mm long undivided portion of the beaks. The teardrop shaped perigynia run about 4 mm long, including the beak. I estimated 65 perigynia in a single spikelet. This collection contains a second immature culm of perhaps C. meadii or C. blanda.


Carex pensylvanica Lamarck


Carex planispicata Naczi


Carex planostachys Kunze


Carex prasina Wahlenberg


Carex radiata (Wahlenberg) Small


Carex reniformis (L. H. Bailey) Small


Carex retroflexa Willdenow


Carex rosea Schkuhr


Carex scoparia Schkuhr ex Willdenow


Carex seorsa Howe


Carex shortiana Dewey


Carex socialis Mohlenbrock & Schwegmann


Carex sparganioides Muhlenberg


Carex squarrosa Linnaeus


Carex striatula Michaux

See section Laxiflorae.


Carex styloflexa

See section Laxiflorae.


Carex stricta Lamarck


Carex suberecta (Olney) Britton


Carex swanii (Fernald) Mackenzie


Carex texensis L. H. Bailey


Carex torta Boott


Carex triangularis Boeckler


Carex tribuloides Wahlenberg


Carex typhina Michaux


Carex umbellata Schkuhr


Carex virescens Muhlenberg


Carex vulpinoidea Michaux


Carex willdenowii Willdenow var. willdenowii



Hyatt, Philip E. 1999. Arkansas Carex (Cyperaceae): a preliminary list [or some such title]. Sida. Correct citation to be added later.

Smith, Edwin B. 1994. Keys to the Flora of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press. Fayetteville. 363 pages.

Yatskievych, George. 1999. [revised Missouri flora volume 1]