Carex albicans var. australis - (Bailey) J. Rettig
Bellow's-beak Sedge
Other English Common Names: Stellate Sedge, White-tinge Sedge
Other Common Names: stellate sedge
Synonym(s): Carex physorhyncha Liebm.
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Carex albicans var. australis (Bailey) J. Rettig (TSN 527065)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.155309
Element Code: PMCYP03GT2
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Sedge Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Cyperaceae Carex
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Carex albicans var. australis
Taxonomic Comments: Kartesz (1994) and FNA (vol. 23, 2002) here include Carex physorhynchia in C. albicans var. australis.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5T5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 15Aug1994
Global Status Last Changed: 13Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: T5 - Secure
Reasons: Carex albicans var. australis is common and abundant on the coastal plain and grows readily following moderate disturbance.
Nation: United States
National Status: NNR

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNR), Arkansas (S3S4), Florida (SNR), Georgia (SNR), Illinois (S1), Kansas (S1), Kentucky (SNR), Louisiana (S3S4), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S1), North Carolina (S2S3), Oklahoma (SNR), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Virginia (S5)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Occurs along the Coastal Plain from Virginia to Florida to Texas, and inland to Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Illinois.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: C. albicans var. australis is relatively common on the coastal plain. It becomes less common inland with documented populations in Illinois (two) and Missouri (three). It is likely much more common than currently known in Missouri and there are >100 occurrences in Texas alone (Jones 1994). As of 1994, data suggest that our understanding of the status of the species is somewhat muddled by taxonomic problems and under-collecting. According to botanists who are familiar with the species, it is common and fairly secure across its range (Rettig 1994).

In Georgia, C. albicans var. australis is not at all rare and is potentially weedy. It is documented from 10 counties in the upper half of the state (Allison 1994). In Louisiana, occurrences need relocating, and additional searches should be made (McInnis 1992).

The species is not as rare in Missouri as it was once thought to be (Yatskievych 1994). There are records of three extant sites and one historic site, all widely dispersed; Smith (1994) presumes the species is under- collected. In Tennessee, the species most likely deserves a "S1" (Pyne 1994). It is assumed that C. albicans var. australis is under-collected in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where there are three extant sites and one historic site, all widely dispersed (Rock 1994).

Population Size Comments: This species is common and abundant with abundance directly correlated with size of habitat. There are many more than 10,000 individuals globally according to Rettig (1994).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: The primary threat to this species is habitat destruction. Otherwise, it is relatively unthreatened. However, it tends to decline under a closed canopy and a thick understory.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Although Carex albicans var. australis has some specific habitat requirements, it does not require a pristine habitat type. Overall the status of the taxon appears stable.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Carex albicans var. australis is not fragile. It is commonly found in disturbed sites (i.e. woods that have been logged in the past) and it appears to be resistant to grazing by livestock.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Occurs along the Coastal Plain from Virginia to Florida to Texas, and inland to Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Illinois.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, FL, GA, IL, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
IL Jackson (17077)*, Pope (17151), Randolph (17157)*, Union (17181)
MO Butler (29023)*, Carroll (29033), Carter (29035)*, Dunklin (29069)*, Howell (29091), Jefferson (29099)*, Livingston (29117), Madison (29123)*, Mississippi (29133)*, New Madrid (29143)*, Pemiscot (29155)*, Reynolds (29179)*, Ripley (29181)*, Shannon (29203), St. Francois (29187)*, St. Louis (29189)*, Ste. Genevieve (29186), Stoddard (29207)*, Wayne (29223)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
05 Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)+
07 Meramec (07140102)+*, Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau (07140105)+, Big Muddy (07140106)+, Whitewater (07140107)+*
08 New Madrid-St. Johns (08020201)+*, Upper St. Francis (08020202)+*, Lower St. Francis (08020203)+*, Little River Ditches (08020204)+*, Cache (08020302)+*
10 Lower Grand (10280103)+, Lower Missouri (10300200)+*
11 North Fork White (11010006)+, Upper Black (11010007)+*, Current (11010008)+, Spring (11010010)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Tufted perennial from long rhizomes, basal leaf sheaths burgundy and not fibrous; several pistillate spikes; perigynia to 3mm, pale green, with a beak to 1mm and teeth 0.2-0.4mm long over the entire perigynia.
General Description: Carex albicans var. australis grows in dense, low tufts, with long horizontal and creeping underground stems. Above-ground stems are 7-17 inches tall, and leaves are very narrow, 7-12 inches long, and usually pale green. Basal sheaths, which surround the stems, are burgundy and usually do not break down into fibers. The staminate spike (an elongate inflorescence) is up to .5 inches long with very small stalks. The pistillate spikes are less than .5 inches long on very short supporting stems. The indehiscent fruit is a very small achene.
Technical Description: Carex albicans belongs to the section Acrocystis, which also has been commonly referred to as the section Montanae. Within this section the taxonomy and nomenclature are difficult, and it is recommended that species are identified by examining a range of individuals in any population (Cusick 1992).

Carex albicans var. australis is described in Flora North America (in press) as follows: Cespitose, with long horizontal rhizomes; stems 2-4.3 dm tall, leaves 2-3.1 dm long and 1.1-2.1 mm wide, usually pale green. Basal sheaths burgundy, usually not fibrillose. Lowest bracts are 4.4-18.5 mm long and 1-2 mm wide. Staminate spikes 6-14 mm long and 0.5-1.8 mm wide, peduncles 0.6-2.3 mm. Staminate scales 3-4 mm long and 0.9-1.8 mm wide, elliptic to long ovate, acute to acuminate, midrib medium-to weakly present, usually not reaching to tip of scale, rarely strongly present and extended to tip of scale and finely teethed, pale green with narrow to wide hyaline margins, sometimes reddish between. Pistillate spikes 5.5-9.1 mm long and 3-4.3 mm wide, the lower two separated 5.6-10.6 mm, peduncles 0.8-2.7 mm. Pistillate scales 2.3- 3.4 mm long and 1-1.8 mm wide, ovate to lanceolate, mucronate to aristate, midrib green with wide hyaline margin. Perigynia 2.7-3.1 mm long and 0.8-1.1 mm wide, pale green, beaks 0.6-1 mm, teeth 0.2-0.4 mm. Achenes 1.3-1.7 mm long and 0.7-1.1 mm wide, n = 18 (Rettig and Crins, in review).

Diagnostic Characteristics: There are three different varieties of C. albicans. The variety australis is unique in that it always has elongate rhizomes that allow the plant to form turf. This characteristic may be variable for other varieties throughout their range. It is possible, for instance, that in the northern end of its range, local conditions may allow rhizomes of other albicans varieties to become more elongate and patches to become turf-forming. Under these conditions, the variety may be mistaken for C. albicans var. australis (Rettig 1994, Reznicek 1994).

Inland in southeastern Missouri and Arkansas, C. albicans var. australis often resembles C. albicans var. albicans. On the coastal plain, however, the C. albicans tends to be paler green, and the rhizomes are consistently short (Rettig 1994).

Carex albicans var. emmonsii and C. albicans var. australis are difficult to distinguish. In the key for the section Acrocystis in Ohio (Cusick 1992), it is recommended that the following characteristics, taken from Rettig (1990), be assessed among a range of individuals in a population to determine the species: "Culms firm and erect, usually surpassing the leaves; midrib of staminate scales weak or absent below tip ... C. albicans var. albicans Culms lax. loosely spreading or arching, usually shorter than the leaves; midrib of staminate scales prominent ... C. albicans var. emmonsii"

The principal difference between C. albicans var. albicans (C. artitecta) and C. albicans var. australis (C.physorhyncha) is the lack of elongate rhysomes in the former. It is often difficult to tell from collections, due to incomplete specimens, whether or not rhizomes are present.

Carex a. var. australis is related to C. a. var. albicans and C. a. var. emmonsii in that they all have similar flavonoid chemistry, achene micromorphology and macromorphological characters. They also lack tricin compounds, produce an unidentified compound, and have convex sides of the achene cell central bodies. These characteristics also separate them from three additional species that were once lumped with the above in the nigromarginata complex and gives reason to separately label them as varieties of C. albicans (Rettig 1990, Rettig 1989).

In addition, Carex albicans var. australis is frequently confused with Carex pensylvanica which may be distinguished by its dense leafy tufts with reddish bases; horizontal, fibrillose stolens; and pubescent perigynia (Fernald 1950).

Ecology Comments: Seed dispersal: Unlike some Carex species, this species is likely not dispersed by ants, since the seeds lack the oily elaiosomes that are attractive to some ant species (Rettig 1994).

Phenology: Members of the section Acrocystis are among the earliest sedges to bloom and fruit. The perigynia in this section are often deciduous, limiting the time in which the plant can be identified. Following maturation of the fruit, the leaves elongate and the plant becomes more conspicuous (Cusick 1992). In the central part of its range, C. a. var. australis flowers in March to early April. Fruits appear in early April in the south to the early May in the north (Rettig 1994).

Habitat Comments: Carex albicans var. australis is a species of dry to somewhat mesic, very loose and sandy or rocky soil in moderately shaded habitat (Rettig 1994, Reznicek 1994, Fernald 1950). It prefers to grow at the base of trees and shrubs (Jones 1994) in deciduous old-growth woods, woods edges, open woods and frequently occurs in forests that have been cut in the past. It occurs less frequently in deciduous-pine mixed woods than in deciduous woods. It occurs on flat as well as hilly land, and the habitat type is consistent throughout its range (Rettig 1994). Gleason (1952) stated that the species occurs "chiefly in calcareous districts"; however, in Ohio, it is most common in acidic and sandy soils (Cusick 1992).

ssociates may include the following: Quercus alba, Q. nigra, Q. shumardii, Q. rubra, Pinus taeda, Liriodendron tulipifera, Ulmus sp., U. alata, Ostrya virginiana, Fagus grandifolia, Acer rubrum, Trillium decepiens, Magnolia grandifolia, Sabal minor, Halesia sp., Zepharanthes atamasco, Carex cherokeensis, Aesculus pavia, and Carya ovata (Rettig 1994).

Habitat types are listed below. The information may not be comprehensive:

In Georgia, C. albicans var. australis is found among hardwood forests in somewhat mesic conditions where it has the potential to be weedy (Allison 1994).

In Illinois, C. albicans var. australis is found in the following habitats: dry upland forest, chert rock outcrop under rock with chestnut oak, chert slope, and sandstone glade (Illinois Natural Heritage Division 1994).

In Louisiana, two sites for Carex albicans var. australis are reported: one in a forested site and one in an old area of a cemetery. The cemetery site is on loess soils and is frequently mowed (McInnis 1992).

In Mississippi, Carex albicans var. australis has been collected from a steep northeast-facing slope in sandy loam soil with think leaf litter, under mixed hardwoods and many pines (MIN).

In Missouri, Carex albicans var. australis has been found in the following habitats: sandy, open ground in a cemetery; dry ledges and Dolomite bluffs along a river on a gravely steep slope; a roadside at woods edge; and a forest near a stream (Missouri Natural Heritage Database 1994). Yatskievych (1994) reports it from a somewhat degraded area in the southwest part of the state. In Ohio, the species grows throughout the state; however, it is most common in the acidic soils of oak woods on the Appalachian Plateau and in oak openings of the sand barrens (Cusick 1992).

In Tennessee, the taxon is found in roadside ditches (Rock 1994, MIN).

Texas populations occur only in the eastern third of the state as eastern deciduous forest species (Jones 1994).

The Manual of the Carolinas describes this species habitat as "Dry woods, chiefly lower Piedmont" (Rock 1994).

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, two early collections of C. albicans var. australis were taken from a high elevation (1200-1650 m). One immature collection was allegedly taken from a grassy bald--a more open habitat with higher precipitation compared to habitats in lower elevations (Rock 1994).

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 15Jul1994
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hengelfelt, J. (1994); S.L. Neid (1998).
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15Jul1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HENGELFELT, JENNIFER S.L.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Bryson, Charles T. 2002. Preliminary abundance and range estimates for Cyperaceae species of Mississippi. Handwritten notes provided to Mississippi Natural Heritage Program, Jackson, MS. 100 pp.

  • Correll, D.S. and M.C. Johnston. 1970. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas. Texas Research Foundation, Renner, TX.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002b. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Vol. 23. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxiv + 608 pp.

  • Herkert, J.R. 1991c. Endangered and Threatened Species of Illinois: Status and Distribution. Volume 1 - Plants. Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board.

  • Jones, S. B., Jr., and N. C. Coile. 1988. The distribution of the vascular flora of Georgia. Department of Botany, University of Georgia, Athens.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T., and C. Meacham. 1998a. Unpublished review draft of Floristic Synthesis, 8 Jan. 1998. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Mohlenbrock, R.H. and J.W. Voigt. 1965. An annotated checklist of vascular plants of the Southern Illinois University Pine Hills field station and environs. Trans. Ill. State Acad. Sci. 58:268-301.

  • Rettig, J.H. 1989. Nomenclatural changes in the Carex pensylvanica group (section Acrocystis, Cyperaceae) of North America. Sida 13: 449-452. Errata noted in: Rettig, J.H. 1990. Correct names for the varieties of Carex albicans/C. emmonsii. Sida 14: 132-133. (A90RET02MHUS)

  • Robison, R.D. 1993. Miscellaneous Publication Number 9. The Center for Field Biology Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN 37044

  • Smith, E. B. 1988b. An atlas and annotated list of the vascular plants of Arkansas, 2nd edition. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

  • Weakley, A.S. 2006. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, and Surrounding States. Working draft of 6 January 2006. University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU), NC Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

  • Weakley, Alan S. 2003. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia: working draft of September 26, 2003. Unpublished draft, UNC Herbarium, NC Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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