Carex simulata Herbaceous Alliance
Short-beaked sedge fens

USDA Ecological Section Map

Summary Information

  • Primary Life FormHerb
  • Elevation1100-3300 m
  • State RarityS3
  • Global RarityG4
  • DistributionUSA: CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY (NatureServe)
  • Endemic to CaliforniaNo
  • Endemic to California Floristic Province and DesertsNo
  • Date Added2009/09/01

Characteristic Species

Carex simulata is dominant or co-dominant in the herbaceous layer with Bistorta bistortoides, Carex aquatilis, Carex nebrascensis, Carex scopulorum, Carex utriculata, Deschampsia cespitosa, Dodecatheon jeffreyi, Epilobium ciliatum, Juncus arcticus, Juncus nevadensis, Mimulus primuloides, Muhlenbergia filiformis, Scirpus microcarpus and/or Viola macloskeyi. Mosses may be abundant, including Aulacomnium palustre, Philonotis fontana or Sphagnum spp.

Vegetation Layers

Herbs < 1 m; cover is intermittent to continuous.

Membership Rules

  • Carex simulata > 50% relative cover in the herbaceous layer (Potter 2005).
  • Carex simulata present and conspicuous (Boul et al. 2021b).
  • Carex simulata ranges from 25-65% cover (NatureServe 2019).


Basins or riparian meadows, seeps, fens, stream banks. Soils are often dark brown to black in color. Soils are deep and mucky from high organic content and are typically saturated to the surface. The USFWS Wetland Inventory (2012 national list) recognizes Carex simulata as a OBL plant.

Other Habitat, Alliance and Community Groupings

MCV (1995) Sedge series
NVCS (2009) Carex simulata saturated herbaceous alliance
Calveg Wet grasses and forbs, Tule-Cattail
Holland Wet montane meadow, Wet subalpine or alpine meadow, Fen
Munz Freshwater marsh
WHR Wet meadow
CDFW CA Code 45.190.00

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