Carex cumulata Troy Weldy

Carex cumulata
Troy Weldy

Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)
State Protection
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Global Conservation Status Rank


Did you know?

The specific name cumulata refers to the way the spikelets are piled up, like cumulus clouds, at the top of the stem. There are over 15 historical records for the species in New York and we expect to find more new populations as the search for this sedge continues.

State Ranking Justification

The sedge is known from at least 15 populations where it is the dominant plant at several sites. There are several historical populations and lots of habitat that remains unchecked. As a plant that responds well to fire, populations may fluctuate widely depending on the current successional state of the immediate site. There are probably more populations present, particularly on the ridgetops of the Hudson Highlands, Shawangunk Mountains, and Taconic Ridge.

Short-term Trends

Populations that have been surveyed more than once are stable.

Long-term Trends

The number of populations seems to have declined over time but many historical records have not been checked. This sedge is easy to overlook and with more targeted surveys we may find that it is still doing well.

Conservation and Management


There are no current threats.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

For the most part, this plant needs no active management. It does respond well to fire, so an occasional wildfire may prove beneficial.

Research Needs

There are no research needs at this time.



A sedge of open rocky habitats, particularly in damp areas on acidic bedrock or shallow soil. Also found in recently burned areas with shallow soils and exposed bedrock, powerline corridors, open oak or woodlands, heathlands, and various successional habitats (New York Natural Heritage Program 2004). Dry, rocky or sandy soil (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Dry or moist acid soils (Fernald 1970).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Brushy cleared land*
  • Gravel mine*
  • Mowed roadside/pathway*
  • Pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit (guide)
  • Pitch pine-oak-heath woodland* (guide)
  • Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens (guide)
  • Red cedar rocky summit* (guide)
  • Rocky summit grassland (guide)
  • Shrub swamp (guide)

Associated Species

  • Aronia arbutifolia (red chokeberry)
  • Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
  • Danthonia compressa (northern oat grass)
  • Deschampsia flexuosa
  • Fraxinus americana (white ash)
  • Quercus ilicifolia (scrub oak, bear oak)
  • Quercus montana (chestnut oak)
  • Quercus rubra (northern red oak)
  • Schizachyrium scoparium
  • Spiraea tomentosa (steeplebush)
  • Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)


New York State Distribution

An Ovales sedge with scattered populations in the Champlain Valley, Hudson Valley, and a few remote populations westward. The majority of plants in New York are found in the Shawangunk Mountains, Hudson Highlands, and Taconic Mountains.

Global Distribution

A sedge ranging from Prince Edward Island to Wisconsin, south to New Jersey and Illinois.

Best Places to See

  • Breakneck Ridge (Putnam County)
  • Lake Awosting area of Minnewaska State Park (Ulster County)
  • Sam's Point Preserve (Ulster County)

Identification Comments

General Description

This is a sedge with many sturdy stems up to 80 cm tall. They stick out at angles above the clump of many narrow leaves. The green to brown conelike flower spikes are rounded at the bottom and always crowded toward the top of the stem. Each individual flower bract (perigynium) is 2-3.4 mm broad and without nerves on the inside face.

Identifying Characteristics

This sedge is characterized by coarse stout culms up to 80 cm tall. The leaf sheaths are loose and green-veined nearly to the summit or with a sharp Y-shaped hyaline area at the summit. The leaf blades are mostly 3-6 mm broad. The inflorescence is compact during the entire growing season with 3-30 stiffly erect and crowded spikes. These spikes are hut-shaped (squared to slightly rounded at the base, broadly tapering to a cone-like top), and green to brown in color. The perigynia are 2-3.4 mm broad and nerveless on the inner face. Once a person has been familarized with this sedge, the combination of habit and habitat make this one of the easier Ovales to identify.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

While this sedge can be identified in flower, entire stems with mature fruit should be collected to allow for easy verification.

Similar Species

This sedge may resemble many of the sedges within the Ovales section, particularly if it is a late season Ovales. In late season, many of the Ovales have congested inflorescences. To distinguish this sedge from others within the Ovales, careful detail should be given to the inflorescences and perigynia. Within New York, the Ovales that are most often confused by Carex cumulata are Carex bicknellii, Carex brevior, Carex merritt-fernaldii, and Carex molesta. All of these have perigynia that are nearly ovate, with a clear membranaceous band near the top of the sheath.

Best Time to See

This sedge begins to appear by mid-May with fruits forming by mid to late June. These fruits begin to separate from the plant by late summer. Surveys should be conducted late June to early September.

  • Fruiting

The time of year you would expect to find Clustered Sedge fruiting in New York.

Clustered Sedge Images


Clustered Sedge
Carex cumulata (Bailey) Fern.

  • Kingdom Plantae
    • Phylum Anthophyta
      • Class Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
        • Order Cyperales
          • Family Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)

Additional Common Names

  • Sedge

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002. Flora of North America, North of Mexico. Volume 23. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae. Oxford University Press, New York. 608 pp.

Other References

Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. D. Van Nostrand, New York. 1632 pp.

Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

Holmgren, Noel. 1998. The Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York.

Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

Reschke, Carol. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Latham, NY. 96 pp. plus xi.

Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2010. New York flora atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: January 14, 2009

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2019. Online Conservation Guide for Carex cumulata. Available from: Accessed March 19, 2019.

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