Carex muehlenbergii Schkuhr ex Willd. var. muehlenbergii

Muhlenberg Sedge

Habitat: Dry woods, openings, and fields. [Dry barrens (partly forested, upland)]

Range: Maine to Minnesota, south to Florida, and Nebraska.

Aids to Identification: Members of this genus can be difficult to identify without careful examination of microscopic features and knowledge of general groups of species. Carex muehlenbergii grows in low, dense tufts, with slender, stiff, sharply 3-angled stems, 20-100 cm tall. The leaves are flat, 2-5 mm wide, and light green. This species belongs to a group of species which possess androgynous spikes, i.e., borne at the apex of the spike. Similar to the common Carex radiata, Carex muehlenbergii has tightly clasping, non-nodulose sheaths and elongate inflorescences. It differs from C. radiata in firm based perigynia with several, conspicuous nerves (under 10X magnification).

Ecological characteristics: Unknown

Phenology: Fruits May - July.

Family: Cyperaceae

Synonyms: Maine populations are represented by var. muehlenbergii. No synonyms noted. Carex muehlenbergii Schkuhr ex Willd. var. enervis Boott occurs in the other five New England states.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 4 town(s) in the following county(ies): York.

Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range.

Conservation considerations: This species is restricted statewide to extreme southern Maine, where conversion of habitat to residential or commercial use may be why the historic populations have not been recently seen. The one known population is in an open area where artificial disturbance seems to be maintaining appropriate habitat conditions.