CPC National Collection Plant Profile

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Carex lutea


Family: 
Cyperaceae  
Common Names: 
Golden sedge, Sulfur Sedge
Author: 
LeBlond
Growth Habit: 
Graminoid
CPC Number: 
44451

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Carex lutea


Carex lutea is a rhizomatous, perennial sedge that grows in clumps with mostly basal leaves. It is distinguished from other Carex species by the bright golden yellow color of female spikes when the fruits mature, by how tall (up to one meter) and slender it is, and by its out-curved perigynia beaks. It was discovered in 1991 and was officially described in 1994.

The Golden Sedge is endemic to just two North Carolina coastal plain counties, where it resides on particularly rare habitat. This sedge is found along the ecotone between longleaf pine savannas and hardwood/conifer swamps where historically fires occurred every three to five years, suppressing the shrub layer. The remaining eight known populations of the sedge occur in areas that have been burned, mown, and/or are wet enough to prevent the establishment of a shrub understory. All eight populations occur within a four-mile-wide area. Between 1992 and 1996, three of the sites lost over 83% of their individuals for unknown reasons. Very specific habitat requirements, combined with fire suppression, herbicide use, and habitat loss due to development pressures and site drainage, are the primary reasons for low population size and overall decline of this species (Leblond 1994; Ratzlaff 2002).

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  North Carolina
State Range of  Carex lutea
Habitat
  The habitat of the Golden Sedge is extremely rare, and has been classified as “Pine Savanna Very Wet Clay Variant,” (LeBlond 2000). This sedge is endemic to the coastal plain of North Carolina, within the Northeast Cape Fear River watershed, in wet savannas that grow over coquina limestone. These areas tend to be unusually acidic compared to nearby areas, and the soils tend to be sandy and wet, even shallowly inundated; the golden sedge thus requires a high water table. The Golden Sedge tends to occur along the ecotone between longleaf pine savannas and hardwood/conifer swamps. Historically, fires occurred every three to five years, suppressing the shrub layer. The Golden Sedge is associated with several species, including Liriodendron tulipifera, Taxodium ascendens, Pinus palustris, the endangered Thalictrum cooleyi, and rare species such as Plantago sparsiflora, Parnassia caroliniana, and Rhynchospora thornei, among others, which form an open canopy, (Weakley 2002; Ratzlaff 2002; Leblond 1994; Amoroso et al. 2005).

Distribution
  Found only at five sites within Pender and Onslow counties of North Carolina, all of which occur within a four-mile-wide area (LeBlond 1994).

Number Left
  There are eight populations (one of which contains two subpopulations), with less than 800 individuals total (Ratzlaff 2002; LeBlond 1994).

Protection

Global Rank:  
G2
 
12/11/2006
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
LE
 
1/23/2002
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
No
 

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  North Carolina S1 E  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  It is thought that the Golden Sedge is fire-dependent, occurring in areas that historically burned every three to five years, suppressing the shrub layer (Leblond 1994; Ratzlaff 2002). In fact, the remaining populations occur in areas that have either been burned, mown, and/or are wet enough to prevent the establishment of a shrub understory.

Threats
  • Shrub succession;
• Drainage of the high water table, because of silviculture or agriculture;
• Habitat loss due to road and powerline maintenance, development (residential, commericial, or industrial), clay mining, highway expansion, and other projects;
• Herbicide use for powerline maintenance;
• It is a rare habitat to begin with; and
• Susceptibility to chance events, since the population is so small and only occurs in a small area.
(Ratzlaff 2002; Leblond 1994)

Current Research Summary
  Sanguamphai et al. (2005) tested genetic diversity from five of the remaining eight populations and found that, compared to other clumped Carex species, the Golden Sedge had a moderate level of genetic diversity, even higher than two related species, Carex cyptolepis and Carex flava, whose North American populations have been similarly tested

Current Management Summary
  • Seven out of the eight populations occur on private lands, making them susceptible to development. Two of these are protected by voluntary agreements between the landowners and the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program; however, these are only partial protections because of their voluntary nature. The eighth population is located on land owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which is studying this site for future restoration of the natural communities and management for rare species (Ratzlaff 2002).
• Part of one population occurs on land now owned by The Nature Conservancy, but it may be threatened by potential changes in hydrology due to nearby quarry activities (Ratzlaff 2002).
• It should be noted that the remaining populations occur on areas of savannah that have either been burned in order to maintain the community as part of active management of the site, or are areas that have been mown and/or may be wet enough to prevent the establishment of a shrub understory (Amoroso et al. 2005).

Research Management Needs
  Amoroso et al. (2005) recommend prescribed fire or mowing in order to suppress a shrub understory, that the hydrology of the sites be maintained, and that drainage ditching and herbicide use be prohibited.

Ex Situ Needs
  Initial seed collection and viability analyses are needed, as this is a 2005 addition to the National Collection.

References

Books (Single Authors)

LeBlond, R.J. 2000. Natural area inventory of Pender County, North Carolina. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.

Weakley, A.S. 2002. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia. Working Draft of July 29, 2002.

Electronic Sources

NatureServe. (2008). NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. [Internet].Version 7.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://www.natureserve.org/explorer. Accessed: (June 17, 2008).

Sanguamphai, A.; Derieg, N.; Campbell, J.; Bruederle, L.P. (2005). Evolutionary Potential in Carex lutea, a rare North American Endemic. Botany 2005, Abstract Detail, Systematics Section/ASPT. Poster given at the University of Colorado at Denver, August 16, 2005. Evolutionary Potential in Carex lutea, a rare North American Endemic. Botany 2005, Abstract Detail, Systematics Section/ASPT. Poster given at the University of Colorado at Denver, August 16, 2005. Accessed: 2005.

Suiter, Dale. N.D. Carex lutea. Southeastern Rare Plant Information Network. http://www.serpin.org/cfm/plantdetail.cfm?plantID=111.. Accessed: 2005.

Journal Articles

LeBlond, R.; Weakley, A.; Reznicek, A.; Crins, W. 1994. Carex lutea. (Cyperaceae), a rare new coastal plain endemic from North Carolina. SIDA. 16(1): 153-161

Ratzlaff, A. 2002. USFWS. 23 Jan. 2002. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for Carex lutea (Golden Sedge). Rules and Regulations. Federal Register. 67, 15: 3120-3126

Reports

Franklin, M.A.; Finnegan, J.T. 2004. Natural Heritage Program List of Rare Plant Species of North Carolina 2004. Raleigh, NC.: North Carolina Natural Heritage Program.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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