Plants of
South Australia
Carex breviculmis
Short-stem Sedge
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2


Carex is the classical Latin name for sedge, perhaps from 'carere' meaning to be absent, as the upper spikes are staminate (male) and do not produce seeds. May have been used by Virgil for plants in this genus and derives from ancient Greek 'keiro' meaning to cut, referring to the sharp edge of leaf margins. Breviculmis from the Latin 'brevis' meaning short and 'culmis' meaning stem.

Distribution and status

Found in the Flinders Ranges, Mount Lofty Ranges, lower Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and the South-east in South Australia, growing in drier grasslands and open woodlands. Also found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and Across Asia. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Densely tufted sedge with short rhizomes and triangular stems and scabrous margins. Leaves exceeding culms, to 35 cm long and 3 mm wide, sheath yellow-brown, ligule obtuse to truncate. Inflorescence narrow, erect with 2–5 spikes solitary at nodes. Spikes sessile, contiguous, erect at maturity with uppermost spike male and lower spikes female. Glumes obtuse to acuminate, often long-mucronate, whitish to pale brown with green midrib. Flowering between August and December. Fruits are pale green to yellow-brown, clusters of erect heads, each containing numerous individual fruit. Seeds are ovoid, trigonous in cross section, pale yellow nut, covered by a papery layer (utricle) with numerous prominent nerves, pubescent, pale green to yellow-brown, apex notched. Seed embryo type is capitate

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October and February. Collect fruits either by running your hands along the heads when mature seeds will come-off easily, or cut whole heads that are brown, containing dark hard seeds. Place the heads in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then rub the heads with a rubber bung to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to separate any unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. Seed viability is usually high.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
BGA390 (0.39 g)30+15-Nov-2017JRG629
South Eastern
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.