Carex scopulorum Herbaceous Alliance
Sierra alpine sedge turf

USDA Ecological Section Map

Summary Information

  • Primary Life FormHerb
  • Elevation1200-3400 m
  • State RarityS3
  • Global RarityG4
  • DistributionCAN: BC. USA: CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY (NatureServe)
  • Endemic to CaliforniaNo
  • Endemic to California Floristic Province and DesertsNo
  • Date Added2009/09/01

Characteristic Species

Carex scopulorum is dominant or co-dominant in the herbaceous layer with Allium validum, Carex heteroneura, Carex nebrascensis, Carex simulata, Carex subnigricans, Carex utriculata, Carex vesicaria, Deschampsia cespitosa, Dodecatheon alpinum, Eleocharis quinqueflora, Eriophorum crinigerum, Mimulus primuloides, Oreostemma alpigenum, Pedicularis groenlandica, Phleum alpinum and Poa cusickii. Emergent shrubs may be present at low cover, including Kalmia microphylla, Salix eastwoodiae or Salix orestera.

Vegetation Layers

Herbs < 40 cm; cover is continuous. A moss layer may be well developed.

Membership Rules

  • Carex scopulorum > 5% absolute cover in herbaceous layer; if C. utriculata or C. vesicaria present, C. scopulorum > 50% relative cover (Potter 2005).


Margins of channels, lakes, ponds, overflow areas, wet meadows. Soils have high organic material content that may form hummocks. The USFWS Wetland Inventory (1996 national list) recognizes Carex scopulorum as a FACW plant.

Other Habitat, Alliance and Community Groupings

MCV (1995) Sedge series, Rocky Mountain sedge series
NVCS (2009) Carex scopulorum seasonally flooded herbaceous alliance
Calveg Wet grasses and forbs
Holland Wet montane meadow, Wet subalpine or alpine meadow, Fen
Munz Alpine fell-fields, Freshwater marsh
WHR Wet meadow
CDFW CA Code 45.120.00

National Vegetation Classification Hierarchy

Formation Class Mesomorphic Shrub and Herb Vegetation (Shrubland and Grassland)
Formation Subclass Temperate and Boreal Shrubland and Grassland
Formation Temperate and Boreal Freshwater Marsh
Division Western North American Freshwater Marsh
Macro Group Western North America Wet Meadow and Low Shrub Carr
Group Western Cordilleran montane-boreal summer-saturated meadow