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Carex atratiformis Britt.

Photo: Carex atratiformis

Black Sedge

Habitat: Brooksides, ravines, and damp slopes. [Rocky summits and outcrops (non-forested, upland); Non-tidal rivershore (non-forested, seasonally wet); Alpine or subalpine (non-forested, upland)]

Range: Labrador to Yukon , south to the mountains of New England, and the vicinity of Lake Superior.

Aids to Identification: Identification of species of the genus Carex is usually difficult and dependent upon rather technical characters. C. atratiformis is in the section Atratae and it is distinguished by the following characteristics: tufted growth, 30-90 cm high; stems much longer than the main leaves; spikes grow on stalks 1-4 cm long; perigynia are elliptic, flattened, and 2.6-3.9 mm long.

Photo: Carex atratiformis

Ecological characteristics: In Maine this sedge is typically found along calcareous seeps, cliff bases, and open riverbanks in alpine or boreal areas.

Phenology: Fruits mid-June - early September.

Family: Cyperaceae

Synonyms: Formerly known as Carex atrata L. ssp. atratiformis (Britt.) Kükenth and Carex ovata Rudge

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 13 town(s) in the following county(ies): Aroostook, Franklin, Oxford, Piscataquis, Somerset.

Dates of documented observations are: 1902, 1903, 1907, 1917, 1965, 1972, 1983, 1984 (2), 1987, 1993, 1994, 1995 (2), 1996, 1997 (7), 1999, 2000, 2001 (6)

Reason(s) for rarity: At southern limit of range; scarcity of suitable habitat.

Conservation considerations: Maintain hydrologic integrity of its rivershore habitat, including the natural disturbance by water and ice. Non-riverine situations appear to persist with localized natural disturbance.