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Carex raleighii Nelmes
Family Cyperaceae
Carex raleighii Nelmes APNI*

Description: Slender, loosely tufted perennial; long, slender rhizome. Culms slender, weak, terete to trigonous, smooth, 25–40 cm long, 0.3–0.7 mm diam.

Leaves shorter than to equalling culms, c. 1 mm wide.

Inflorescence erect, 0.5–1 cm long, with 1–4 spikes solitary at nodes; lowest involucral bract exceeding inflorescence. Spikes sessile, contiguous, spreading to erect at maturity, to c. 1 cm long; all spikes androgynous. Male and female bracts ('glumes') acute, orange-brown with broad white to hyaline margins near apex; female bracts 3.5–4 mm long. Perigynia (utricles) 2.5–3.0 mm long, 1.0–1.4 mm diam., ovoid to ellipsoid, weakly several-nerved, slightly hispid on narrowly winged shoulders and beak, green to pale brown; beak 0.7–1 mm long, with apex split. Style 2-fid.

Nut elliptical to obovate in outline, lenticular in cross-section, obtuse to broad-acute apex, tapering broad-acute base, yellow-brown.

L. Elkan


Photo Karen L Wilson

Distribution and occurrence: Rare; Snowy Mountains and one record from lower altitude on the upper reaches of Tantawangalo Creek (in SE Forests National Park); also Vic and Tas.

Scattered and inconspicuous on high altitude subalpine swampy flats.
NSW subdivisions: ST
Other Australian states: Vic. Tas.
Threatened species: NSW BCA: Endangered
AVH map***

Very close to C. hebes, differing in having taller but more slender culms and leaves, with the inflorescence longer than broad and usually with fewer spikes and the utricles smaller with a longer, narrower beak. C. hebes is generally bigger in its parts than C. raleighii (except for height). The fruit inside the utricle is bigger in C. hebes and more or less truncate at the apex and obtuse at the base, whereas the fruit apex is more obtuse to broad-acute at the apex and more tapering to broad-acute at the base in C. raleighii. Fine details of the utricle also differ slightly: the wing on the neck of the utricle is slightly broader in C. hebes, and the base of the utricle is more truncate in C. hebes. However, there is not a complete correlation of characters, and further study is needed to assess whether these are two distinct species or one species that varies according to habitat. Note that the spikes are gynaecandrous, as in C. hebes, NOT androgynous as erroneously reported in Telopea 6(4): 573 (1996).

Text by Karen L Wilson (1996); edited KL Wilson (Aug 2016, May 2018)
Taxon concept: Karen Wilson in Telopea 6(4): 572-3 (1996)

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.
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