The genus name Rhynchospora is derived from the Greek rhynchous, a snout, and spora, a seed, and refers to the beaked fruit characteristic of this genus (Fernald 1950).
There are seven existing populations. Three of them consist of multiple, hydrologically connected ponds. The other four populations are small. There are three additional populations from the early 1900s that have not been resurveyed.
Populations seen in the 1980s and 1990s were surveyed again in 2005 and almost all populations were relocated. It is difficult to obtain exact short-term trends because this pondshore species' numbers are tied to water level fluctuations.
The long-term trend appears stable. More intensive surveys have found a few new populations since the 1980s beyond those that were originally known.
Some ponds have seen too much development along the shoreline which threaten populations with direct disturbance by trampling and ATV use. The invasion of Phragmites is also a threat to a few populations.
The pondshores need to be protected from direct disturbance by ATVs and excessive trampling. Exotic invasive species must be prevented from colonizing the shores and any existing populations must be eliminated. A natural buffer of at least 200 feet should be established around the ponds to prevent excessive runoff and pollution events.
This beakrush occurs on the sandy or mucky margins and dried bottoms of coastal plain ponds (New York Natural Heritage Program 2012). Wet sandy soil and bogs (Gleason and Cronquist 1991). Wet sands and peats (Fernald 1950).
This wetland sedge is only known from Suffolk County, Long Island.
This plant is most common in Florida with scattered populations west to Alabama and Mississippi, becoming more rare in Louisiana and East Texas. Its range also extends north along the coast from South Carolina to Long Island and Massachusetts. It is rare north of South Carolina. There are disjunct populations in the Midwest where is rare in southern Michigan and northern Indiana.
Short-beaked beakrush is a small tufted annual plant that grows 1-6 dm tall. The leaf blades are 1-3 mm wide. On the upper stem there are open clusters of 3-6 pedunculate ovoid spikelets at the end of the stem and branches. The thin, 1-nerved, ovate, acute scales are numerous and each one contains a perfect flower. The achenes are 0.7-1 mm long, a little wider than long, with strong transverse ridges. The tubercle is very short, only as wide as the fruit and closely appressed to it (FNA 2002).
The identification of this species can only be confirmed when it is in fruit.
Rhynchospora scirpoides, long-beaked beakrush, is almost identical and occurs in the same habitat but the achene is finely rough and and not coarsely ridged and the tubercle is beaked with a long sword-shaped persistent style (FNA 2002).
The best time to identify this species is late July through September.
The time of year you would expect to find Short-beaked Beak Sedge fruiting in New York.
Short-beaked Beak Sedge
Rhynchospora nitens (Vahl) Gray
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.
Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, 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. 2020. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
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 http://www.fccdr.usf.edu/. University of South Florida http://www.usf.edu/]. New York Flora Association http://newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/, Albany, New York
Wunderlin, R.P. 1998. Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Florida. 806 pp.
This guide was authored by: Stephen M. Young
Information for this guide was last updated on: September 6, 2012
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2020. Online Conservation Guide for Rhynchospora nitens. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/short-beaked-beak-sedge/. Accessed April 5, 2020.