Carex nigricans Provisional Herbaceous Alliance
Black alpine sedge meadows

Summary Information

  • Primary Life FormHerb
  • Elevation3000-3700 m
  • State RarityS3?
  • Global RarityG4
  • DistributionCAN: AB, BC. USA: CA, CO, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY (NatureServe)
  • Endemic to CaliforniaNo
  • Endemic to California Floristic Province and DesertsNo
  • Date Added2009/09/01

Characteristic Species

Carex nigricans is dominant or co-dominant in the herbaceous layer with Caltha leptosepala, Carex aquatilis, Carex canescens, Carex pellita, Danthonia intermedia, Deschampsia cespitosa, Dodecatheon spp., Epilobium spp., Gentiana spp., Pedicularis attollens, Pedicularis groenlandica, Phleum alpinum and Symphyotrichum spathulatum. Shrubs may be present at low cover, including Kalmia microphylla, Phyllodoce breweri, Rhododendron columbianum, Salix petrophila or Vaccinium cespitosum.

Vegetation Layers

Herbs < 50 cm; cover is continuous.


Low-gradient basin floors and lakeshores associated with late-melting snowfields; in seeps along slopes. Soils are high in organic material and may be hummocky with water tables near the surface. The USFWS Wetland Inventory (1996 national list) recognizes Carex nigricans as a FACW plant.

Other Habitat, Alliance, and Community Groupings

MCV (1995) Sedge series, Subalpine meadow habitat
NVCS (2009) Carex nigricans seasonally flooded herbaceous alliance
Calveg Perennial grasses and forbs
Holland Wet subalpine or alpine meadow, Alpine snowbank margin
Munz Alpine fell-fields
WHR Alpine dwarf-shrub, Wet meadow
CDFW CA Code 45.164.00