Carex (utriculata, vesicaria) Herbaceous Alliance
Beaked sedge and blister sedge meadows

USDA Ecological Section Map

Summary Information

  • Primary Life FormHerb
  • Elevation0-3400 m
  • State RarityS4
  • Global RarityG5
  • DistributionCAN: BC. USA: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA, WY (NatureServe)
  • Endemic to CaliforniaNo
  • Endemic to California Floristic Province and DesertsNo
  • Date Added1995/11/01

Characteristic Species

Carex utriculata or Carex vesicaria is dominant or co-dominant in the herbaceous layer with Bistorta bistortoides, Carex jonesii, Carex lenticularis, Carex nebrascensis, Carex praegracilis, Deschampsia cespitosa, Juncus arcticus, Menyanthes trifoliata, Muhlenbergia filiformis, Potamogeton natans, Saxifraga oregana, Scirpus congdonii, Torreyochloa pallida var. pauciflora, Trifolium wormskioldii and Viola macloskeyi. Emergent shrubs may be present at low cover; mosses may be abundant.

Vegetation Layers

Herbs < 1 m; cover is intermittent to continuous.

Membership Rules

  • Alliance rule: either C. vesicaria or C. utriculata > 30% relative cover in the herbaceous layer; C. scopulorum with low cover, if present.
  • Carex utriculata > 30% relative cover in the herbaceous layer; C. scopulorum with low cover if present (Potter 2005).
  • Carex vesicaria > 30% relative cover in the herbaceous layer; C. scopulorum with low cover if present (Potter 2005).

Habitats

Wet meadows, fens, edges of ponds and lakes, depressions, seeps, swales. Soils can be mineral to highly peaty and hummocky. The USFWS Wetland Inventory (1996 national list) recognizes Carex utriculata as NI and C. vesicaria as OBL plants in the Northwest and California, respectively.

Other Habitat, Alliance and Community Groupings

MCV (1995) Beaked sedge series
NVCS (2009) Carex utriculata saturated herbaceous alliance, Carex vesicaria seasonally flooded herbaceous alliance
Calveg Wet grasses and forbs
Holland Wet montane meadow, Wet subalpine or alpine meadow, Freshwater seep, Fen
Munz Freshwater marsh
WHR Wet meadow
CDFW CA Code 52.121.00

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