Lined Sedge

Carex striatula Michx.

Carex striatula line drawing
Britton, N.L., and A. Brown (1913); downloaded from USDA-Plants Database.

Monocotyledoneae (Monocots)
Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)
State Protection
Listed as Endangered by New York State: in imminent danger of extirpation in New York. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Historical (Possibly extirpated) in New York - Missing from New York; known only from historical records (more than 30 years ago), but still some possibility of rediscovery upon further searching.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

The specific epithet, striatula, means "with fine longitudinal lines" (Fernald 1970). This refers to the many fine lines (nerves) on the perigynia.

State Ranking Justification

There are currently no known extant populations in New York. As a plant at the northern edge of its range, this sedge has likely always been rare in New York. Surveys in the lower Hudson Valley and the coastal islands should target this plant to determine if more populations are present.

Short-term Trends

Populations of this species have not been observed in over 20 years, but surveys have been limited. Therefore, short-term trends are unknown.

Long-term Trends

This sedge is at the northern edge of its range on the coastal plain. This area of New York is under extreme pressure from urbanization. One of the known historical populations from Kings County is believed extirpated. Overall, long term trends show this species declining to the point that it cannot be found any longer in New York.

Conservation and Management


There are no specific threats known for Carex striatula in New York.



Dry to moist ravine slopes, deciduous or mixed deciduous-evergreen forests (Bryson and Naczi 2002). Rich open woods (Rhoads and Block 2000). Dry to mesic woods (Gleason & Cronquist 1991). Rich hardwoods (Fernald 1970).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Appalachian oak-hickory forest* (guide)
    A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites, usually on ridgetops, upper slopes, or south- and west-facing slopes. The soils are usually loams or sandy loams. This is a broadly defined forest community with several regional and edaphic variants. The dominant trees include red oak, white oak, and/or black oak. Mixed with the oaks, usually at lower densities, are pignut, shagbark, and/or sweet pignut hickory.
  • Limestone woodland* (guide)
    A woodland that occurs on shallow soils over limestone bedrock in non-alvar settings, and usually includes numerous rock outcrops. There are usually several codominant trees, although one species may become dominant in any one stand.
  • Maple-basswood rich mesic forest* (guide)
    A species rich hardwood forest that typically occurs on well-drained, moist soils of circumneutral pH. Rich herbs are predominant in the ground layer and are usually correlated with calcareous bedrock, although bedrock does not have to be exposed. The dominant trees are sugar maple, basswood, and white ash.
  • Oak-tulip tree forest* (guide)
    A hardwood forest that occurs on moist, well-drained sites in southeastern New York. The dominant trees include a mixture of five or more of the following: red oak, tulip tree, American beech, black birch, red maple, scarlet oak, black oak, and white oak.

* probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Quercus montana (chestnut oak)


New York State Distribution

In New York this sedge is only known historically from Long Island and Staten Island.

Global Distribution

Carex striatula is an Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain and Gulf Coastal Plain species that does not commonly occur within glaciated territory or west of the Mississippi River. It ranges from the eastern third of Texas (Jones 1994), northeast through Tennessee, Kentucky and Long Island, New York and south to Florida and the Gulf states (Bryson 1980). It occurs much less commonly inland in the Piedmonts and Appalachian Mountains. There are no records for occurrences south of the United States/Mexico border, and Gaddy (1994) is very doubtful that is would occur any further south.

The range for C. striatula is very similar to the botanically comparable C. styloflexa, however C. striatula ranges further inland on the continent (Bryson 1994).

Identification Comments

General Description

Carex striatula is a common and occasionally invasive perennial sedge of dry to slightly mesic deciduous woodlands. It grows as tufts up to 5-6 inches in diameter, but typically not over 3 inches. There are generally 4-10 stems per plant, although there may be up to 20-30 (Bryson 1994). The stems grow obliquely upward and are sharply triangular. The sheath that surrounds the stem at the base is white or light brown. The inflorescence contains a terminal pollen producing (staminate) spike and 2 or usually 3 pistillate spikes below the staminate spike. The small, dry indehiscent (not splitting open at maturity) fruit is a 3-angled achene. (Gleason and Cronquist 1991).

Identifying Characteristics

Carex striatula is very similar to C. laxiflora and has bases of leaf sheaths tan or light brown (use magnification and light to assess). The proximal spikes are pistillate and have a peduncle 0-5 cm long while the terminal spike is staminate and has a peduncle 0.4-12 cm long. Lateral spikes are 22-62 mm long and 3-5 mm wide and the terminal spike is 22-32(-36) mm long and 2-3 mm wide. There are 6-18 loosely overlapping to more remote perigynia per pistillate spike. Perigynia are ascending, finely many nerved, and (3.4-)3.9-5.1 mm long with a straight to slightly curved beak 0.6-1.7 mm long (Bryson and Naczi 2002).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

This species is close in appearance to some other members of section Laxiflorae and is best identified while it has slightly immature to mature fruit.

Similar Species

Carex striatula is a member of the section Laxiflorae which has a few other species in New York (C. albursina, C. blanda, C. gracilescens, C. laxiflora, C. leptonervia, C. ormostachya, and C. styloflexa). Many of these species are at least superficially similar.

Carex gracilescens and C. ormostachya have red/purple lower sheath bases. Carex albursina often has wider leaves ranging from 10-38(-62) mm wide compared to 3-14 mm wide for C. striatula. Carex leptonervia has smaller perigynia (2.2-3.2 mm long compared to (3.4-)3.9-5.1 mm long for C. striatula) and less conspicuous and fewer (8-18 compared to (22-)25-32 for C. striatula) nerves on the perigynia. Carex blanda has the perigynia more densely overlapping on lateral spikes and has shorter terminal staminate spike peduncles. Carex styloflexa has perigynia spreading compared to ascending; lateral spikes 6-9(-15) mm long compared to 22-62 mm long; and it has longer peduncles of proximal lateral spikes (4.6-14 times as long as the spikes they subtend compared to 1.4-3.3(-5.3) times as long as the spikes they subtend for C. striatula) (Bryson and Naczi 2002).

Carex laxiflora is the closest to C. striatula. Carex striatula appears as a robust C. laxiflora except perhaps for leaf width. Additional work on these two species may reveal new information. Carex laxiflora has achenes 1.8-2.2(-3.4) mm long, perigynia (2.6-)3.2-4.1(-4.6) mm long, and terminal spikes 12-24(-34) mm long compared to achenes 2.2-2.8(-4.6) mm long, perigynia (3.4-)3.9-5.1 mm long; and terminal spikes 22-32(-36) mm long for C. striatula (Bryson and Naczi 2002).

Best Time to See

The species has immature to mature fruit from late May through June. This is the best time to survey for the species.

  • Fruiting

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

Lined Sedge Images


Lined Sedge
Carex striatula Michx.

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

Additional Common Names

  • Sedge


  • Carex laxiflora var. angustifolia Dewey
  • Carex laxiflora var. latifolia Boott [Misapplied to Staten Island specimens, not Boott according to Mitchell and Tucker (1997).]

Comments on the Classification

Some botanists question the distinctness of this species compared to C. laxiflora (Braun 1967, Gleason and Cronquist 1991, Weakley 2004).

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Bryson, C.T. and R.F.C. Naczi. 2002. Carex Linnaeus sect. Laxiflorae (Kunth) Mackenzie. Pages 431-440 in Flora of North America Editorial Committee (editors), Flora of North America, north of Mexico, Volume 23, Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae. Oxford University Press, New York, New York, USA. 608pp + xxiv.

Other References

Braun, E.L. 1967. The Vascular Flora of Ohio. Volume 1. The Monocotyledoneae: Cat-tails to Orchids. The Ohio State University Press, Cincinnati, Ohio. 464 pp.

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

Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1963. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company, New York, NY. 810 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.

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. 2024. 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.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2000. The Plants of Pennsylvania, an Illustrated Manual. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA.

Weakley, A.S. 2004. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. Working draft of March 17, 2004. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. 871pp. Currently published by the author and available on the web at (

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: May 17, 2019

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Carex striatula. Available from: Accessed May 26, 2024.