Carex cristatella Britton
Common Name: SEDGE
Coefficient of Conservatism: 3
Coefficient of Wetness: -3
Wetness Index: FACW
Physiognomy: Nt P-Sedge

Carex cristatella B. S. Walters

Swamps (deciduous or coniferous) and thickets, swales, marshes, shores, ditches, and meadows; rarely in drier sites; a common species.

Carex cristatella, C. projecta, and C. tribuloides are a trio of closely related species, that all have leaf sheaths that are loose – “baggy,” – expanding near the apex to be significantly larger than the culm diameter, vegetative culms that become elongated and leafy, especially after fruiting, and which have the capability of persisting over winter and, if on a suitable substrate, forming new shoots and roots at the nodes to function in vegetative reproduction. 

The species, however, can be hard to distinguish, especially with immature material. Carex cristatella is the most distinctive in fruit, with ± globular spikes with perigynium beaks widely spreading, the lowermost even ± reflexed. The inflorescences tend to be fairly compact and stiff and straight, except often bent above the lowest spike. Carex projecta has spikes distinctly wider than long, with perigynia spreading. The inflorescences are arching or even ± nodding, with the spikes separated and ± spreading, except in depauperate material. Carex tribuloides has spikes clearly longer than wide with appressed-ascending perigynia, and usually dense straight and stiff inflorescences with strongly ascending spikes.

Carex projecta is the earliest to fruit, with mature but green perigynia as early as mid-June, and ripe, brown shedding perigynia by early July; a little later, of course, near Lake Superior. Carex cristatella is later maturing, with ripe, but green perigynia from late June southward, and shedding brown perigynia from late July in the south to mid-August in northern Michigan. Carex tribuloides is latest, with ripe, but green perigynia starting by early to mid-July, and brown shedding perigynia starting only in August. 

 See also the notes under Carex bebbii. The spikes are more separated than usual in f. catelliformis (Farw.) Fernald, which thus resembles C. projecta, except for the globular  spikes.



Alcona County
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Barry County
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    Including Isle Royale
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MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. November 28, 2022.