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Community Field Guide

Scientific Name:
Carex lasiocarpa Herbaceous Vegetation

Common Name:
Slender sedge Herbaceous Vegetation

Photo by Marc Jones

Community Description

The Carex lasiocarpa plant association usually occupies former lake basins, long-abandoned beaver ponds, potholes, and lake and stream margins that favor the accumulation of peat. Occasionally this community occurs as floating or quaking mats on fluid peat subsoil. This association can often be found in intermediate to rich fens. The soils are usually organic, with accumulations of sedge peat. This type typically indicates a stable hydrologic regime with yearlong saturated soil conditions in the root zone at minimum. This community tolerates yearlong flooded conditions.

Carex lasiocarpa dominates the community with 30%-80% cover. It often forms monocultures in sedge meadows in Montana. Carex utriculata and Carex lanuginosa are often the only other species with high constancy.

The Carex lasiocarpa community type is distributed globally throughout the northern hemisphere; in the western United States it is a minor type in eastern Washington, the Uinta Mountains of Utah, southeastern Idaho, throughout much of Montana, and in central Yellowstone National Park.

Drought years may lower water tables, making this community accessible to both domestic and wild grazing animals; trampling damage by hoofed animals on wet soils may cause rutted and hummock soils on margins. These sites are generally so wet as to preclude most types of recreational uses except fishing. Heavy disturbance from ORV use should be avoided because the organic soils are slow to recover from mechanical damage. High water tables make burning difficult, but fire can be used on sites adjacent to floodplains. Dominant sedges of this habitat type are resistant to damage by fire, except where hot fires penetrate the peat soil.

Global Rank: G4? State Rank: S4

Community References


95-07-11/ L. Williams

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This information is from the:
Montana Natural Heritage Program
Montana State Library--Natural Resource Information System
1515 East Sixth Ave., Helena, MT 59620-1800
406 444-5354