Soft Fox Sedge

Carex conjuncta Boott

Carex conjuncta 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
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Apparently or Demonstrably Secure globally - Uncommon to common in the world, but not rare; usually widespread, but may be rare in some parts of its range; possibly some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors. More information is needed to assign either G4 or G5.


Did you know?

All but one population of Carex conjuncta have not been seen in NY in over 100 years (one population is known from 1934). Due to this species' similarity to a few others, it may simply be being overlooked. Until all historic populations are surveyed this species will be considered historical, as opposed to extirpated, in NY.

State Ranking Justification

There are no known populations today but as many as ten historical locations. These sites are situated near steams or waterfalls, in wet swales, or on the back side of marshes. Some of the historical locations have good directions, so these should be sought out.

Short-term Trends

No populations have been seen in over 70 years (but survey work to these historical locations has yet to be conducted). So, short term trends are unknown.

Long-term Trends

No populations have been seen in over 70 years. Survey work to these populations needs to be conducted. This species is not well known in New York and populations could be being overlooked. Long term trends are unclear but may suggest that this species is declining in New York.

Conservation and Management

Research Needs

Voucher specimens need to be verified. Also, survey work to historical locales needs to be conducted.



Carex conjuncta occurs in swales, moist to wet meadows/marshes, thickets, and stream banks. It is occasionally found in damp open woods. Sometimes it occurs in rich alluvial soils (New York Natural Heritage Program 2006). Seasonally saturated soils in wet meadows, openings in alluvial woods, upper borders of tidal marshes, stream banks (Standley 2002). Damp woods (Gleason & Cronquist 1991). Calcareous bottoms, glades and swales (Fernald 1970). Wet soil, open woods, creek valleys, and ditches (Braun 1967).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Floodplain forest* (guide)
    A hardwood forest that occurs on mineral soils on low terraces of river floodplains and river deltas. These sites are characterized by their flood regime; low areas are annually flooded in spring, and high areas are flooded irregularly.
  • Shallow emergent marsh* (guide)
    A marsh meadow community that occurs on soils that are permanently saturated and seasonally flooded. This marsh is better drained than a deep emergent marsh; water depths may range from 6 in to 3.3 ft (15 cm to 1 m) during flood stages, but the water level usually drops by mid to late summer and the soil is exposed during an average year.
  • Shrub swamp* (guide)
    An inland wetland dominated by tall shrubs that occurs along the shore of a lake or river, in a wet depression or valley not associated with lakes, or as a transition zone between a marsh, fen, or bog and a swamp or upland community. Shrub swamps are very common and quite variable.

* probable association but not confirmed.


New York State Distribution

Carex conjuncta occurs in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys. There is also a specimen collected from Chemung County in south-central New York.

Global Distribution

Carex conjuncta is known from New York west to Michigan, Illinois, and Nebraska south to Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and Kansas (Standley 2002).

Identification Comments

General Description

Carex conjuncta is a tufted, perennial, grass-like plant. It has leaves that are up to 8 mm wide. Stems arise from the leaves at the base of the plant and are relatively wide (to 3.5 mm wide) and up to 80 cm tall. At the top of the stems are numerous short flowering/fruiting branches which together from a dense 3-7 cm long cylindrical inflorescence. The fruits (perigynia) are green and up to 4.5 mm long (Standley 2002).

Identifying Characteristics

Carex conjuncta is a cespitose perennial. It has long leaves (to 75 cm long) that are about the same length as the culms. Adaxial (front) surfaces of leaf sheaths are hyaline, colorless, rugose, and convex. The inflorescences are 3-7 cm long and to 2 cm wide and are composed of many densely flowered short branches. Perigynia are prominently 3-5 veined abaxially, veinless adaxially, and to 4.5 mm long. The perigynia are not distended below by a spongy layer but instead have spongy tissue on either side of the achenes (Standley 2002).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification

Identification is easiest when this species has immature to mature perigynia which are not yet shedding heavily. Intact lower leaf sheaths are useful for identification purposes.

Similar Species

Carex laevivaginata and C. stipata superficially resemble C. conjuncta. The former two species have perigynia that are distended at the base. In addition, C. stipata often has a longer inflorescence (5-10 mm long) and C. laevivaginata has a non-rugose, truncate, and apically thickened adaxial leaf sheath.

Carex alopecoidea more closely resembles C. conjuncta but differs in having an adaxial leaf sheath not rugose, perigynia with abaxial veins faint, and a shorter inflorescence (2-4 cm) (Standley 2002).

Best Time to See

Plants fruit from early June through at least mid July. Therefore, surveys are most effective during this time period.

  • Fruiting

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

Soft Fox Sedge Images


Soft Fox Sedge
Carex conjuncta Boott

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

Additional Common Names

  • Sedge

Comments on the Classification

Carex conjuncta is in section Vulpinae.

Additional Resources

Best Identification Reference

Standley, L.A. 2002. Carex Linnaeus sect. Vulpinae (Heuffel) H. Christ. Pages 273-278 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, NY, 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, 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.

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: February 13, 2006

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Carex conjuncta. Available from: Accessed June 23, 2024.