Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Carex capitata


SPECIES: Carex capitata
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Walsh, Roberta A. 1994. Carex capitata. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : CARCAP SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : CACA13 COMMON NAMES : capitate sedge TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of capitate sedge is Carex capitata L. [5,7,10]. It is in the family Cyperaceae. Carex capitata f. arctogen (H. Smith) Hulten is a recognized form [12] LIFE FORM : Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Carex capitata
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Capitate sedge is circumboreal [10,11]. It extends south in the western cordillera of North America to southern British Columbia and Alberta, and sporadically at high elevations to Mexico and east to Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado [5,10]. In the east, it occurs in the high mountains from Quebec south to New Hampshire [5,18]. It also occurs in southern South America [1,7]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES37 Mountain meadows FRES44 Alpine STATES : AK CA CO ID MT NV NH OR UT WA WY AB BC NF NT PQ YT MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 2 Cascade Mountains 4 Sierra Mountains 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 11 Southern Rocky Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K007 Red fir forest K052 Alpine meadows and barren SAF COVER TYPES : 207 Red fir SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Capitate sedge is listed as an indicator and dominant species in the following published description of plant communities: Vegetation patterns and environment of some alpine plant communities on Lakeview Mountain, southern British Columbia [15] Species associated with capitate sedge in the alpine zone of the eastern Cascade Range in southern interior British Columbia include downy sedge (Carex scirpoidea), snow cinquefoil (Potentilla nivea), slender crazyweed (Oxytropis monticola), Lyall's goldenweed (Haplopappus lyallii), golden fleabane (Erigeron aureus), and fairy-candelabra (Androsace septentrionalis) [16]. Species associated with capitate sedge in the alpine zone of Mt. Baker, Washington, in the North Cascade Range include false sedge (Carex scirpoidea var. pseudoscirpoidea), alpine fescue (Festuca ovina var. brevifolia), and Cascade willow (Salix cascadensis) [3].


SPECIES: Carex capitata
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : NO-ENTRY PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Capitate sedge is listed as a native plant good for stabilizing or restoring disturbed or degraded (including logged or burned) areas. It is also recommended for erosion control [9]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Carex capitata
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Capitate sedge is a native, perennial, monoecious graminoid [8,10]. It is loosely to densely caespitose [8,11]. Culms are 4 to 14 inches (10-35 cm) tall [1,10]. Leaves are one to four per culm [8] and 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) wide or less [1,14,18]. The first foliage leaves arise well above the base of the plant [10]. The inflorescence is a solitary terminal spike [10] 0.16 to 0.39 inches (4-10 mm) long [8,14]. The achene is 0.06 inches (1.5 mm) long [8]. The perigynia surrounding the achene is ovate and 0.08 to 0.12 inches (2-3 mm) long [1,14]. There are 6 to 25 pergynia per spike [7,9]. Capitate sedge has short creeping rhizomes [8] on which the culms are closely spaced [23]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Hemicryptophyte Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Capitate sedge sprouts from perennating buds at the base of the culms and from rhizomes [10]. It also reproduces by seed [8]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Capitate sedge is found in arctic and alpine environments [10] on marshy meadows to dry alpine slopes [14,23]. It grows on acidic rocky, gravelly [7], sandy [15], or peaty [5] soils. In the alpine zone of the eastern Cascade Range in southern interior British Columbia capitate sedge is dominant where the soil is strongly acid (pH 4.9-5.3) and coarse textured, with loamy sand predominating [15]. In the alpine zone of Mt. Baker, Washington, capitate sedge only grew in the drier eastern region, on sites with the least snow accumulation. However, the soils there remained moist well into summmer because of drainage from upslope [3]. Capitate sedge is found at the following elevations: Elevation (feet) Elevation (m) AK 0- 3,281 0-1,000 [11] CA 6,234-12,900 1,900-3,932 [9,14] WA 7,546- 8,038 2,300-2,450 [3] BC 2,402- 2,500 732- 762 [16] SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Capitate sedge is dominant on some sites [15]. It is probably a climax species in some places, but no specific information was found on its successional status. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Capitate sedge blooms from July 1 to August 30 in New England [18] and from late June to August in adjacent Canada [5]. Capitate sedge showed little phenological variation due to aspect in the alpine zone of the eastern Cascade Range in southern interior British Columbia. Snow had melted from the site by the third week of June in 1980. Capitate sedge broke dormancy the last week of June and grew vegetatively until the first week of July. At that time it began to flower, and continued to do so until the second week of August (except at one site, where flowering ended August 3). It set fruit until the first week of September, and dispersed seed after that time [16].


SPECIES: Carex capitata
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Since capitate sedge can reproduce vegetatively [8,10], it probably sprouts from rhizomes after aerial portions are burned. Where thick tufts form, they may protect basal buds from fire-caused damage. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil Tussock graminoid


SPECIES: Carex capitata
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Capitate sedge culms are probably killed by fire during the growing season. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Vegetation regrowth after fire is very fast in low arctic tundra sedge (Carex spp.) dominated communities [22]. Sedges increase in importance following fire in these habitats [21]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Carex capitata
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