Carex subnigricans Herbaceous Alliance
Dark alpine sedge turf

USDA Ecological Section Map

Summary Information

  • Primary Life FormHerb
  • Elevation900-3200 m
  • State RarityS3
  • Global RarityG4
  • DistributionUSA: CA, ID, NV, OR, UT, WY (USDA Plants)
  • Endemic to CaliforniaNo
  • Endemic to California Floristic Province and DesertsNo
  • Date Added2009/09/01

Characteristic Species

Carex subnigricans is dominant or co-dominant in the herbaceous layer with Antennaria media, Calamagrostis muiriana, Calamagrostis purpurascens, Carex phaeocephala, Carex vernacula, Castilleja lemmonii, Dodecatheon alpinum, Dodecatheon redolens, Draba breweri, Draba stenoloba, Festuca brachyphylla, Gentianopsis holopetala, Luzula orestera, Luzula spicata, Mimulus primuloides, Muhlenbergia filiformis, Oreostemma alpigenum, Poa glauca ssp. rupicola, Rumex paucifolius and Sibbaldia procumbens. Emergent shrubs may be present at low cover, including Kalmia microphylla or Salix spp.

Vegetation Layers

Herbs < 30 cm; cover is continuous.

Membership Rules

  • Carex subnigricans > 5% absolute cover in the herbaceous layer (Potter 2005) and usually > 50% relative cover.


Seasonally saturated meadows, seeps and stream banks. 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 subnigricans as a FAC plant.

Other Habitat, Alliance and Community Groupings

MCV (1995) Sedge series
NVCS (2009) Not treated
Calveg Wet grasses and forbs, Perennial grasses and forbs
Holland Wet subalpine or alpine meadow, Sierra Nevada fell-field
Munz Alpine fell-fields
WHR Alpine dwarf-shrub, Wet meadow
CDFW CA Code 45.186.00

National Vegetation Classification Hierarchy

Formation Class Mesomorphic Shrub and Herb Vegetation (Shrubland and Grassland)
Formation Subclass Temperate and Boreal Shrubland and Grassland
Formation Temperate Grassland, Meadow, and Shrubland
Division Vancouverian and Rocky Mountain Grassland and Shrubland
Macro Group Western Cordilleran montane-boreal wet meadow
Group Western cordilleran montane-boreal mesic wet meadow