Plants of
South Australia
Carex inversa var. major
Large Knob Sedge,
Knob Sedge
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 10

Common names

Large Knob Sedge

Knob Sedge


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. Inversa from the Latin 'inversus' meaning turned upside down, referring to the male flowers being at the base rather than at the top. Major from Latin meaning great, alluding to the variety's larger habit compared to C. inversa var. inversa.

Distribution and status

Found on southern Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island and the South-east in South Australia, growing in damp places. Also found in all States except Northern Territory, however, the varieties are not recognised by the other states. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Uncommon in Western 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, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Sedge with slender stems to 60 cm high. Leaves mostly shorter than culms, to 3 mm with. Bracts 2, leaf-like, close together, much longer than the inflorescence. Flower-spikes 2-4, sessile in a terminal cluster or one a little lower down, ovoid, to 10 mm long, with a few male flowers at the base, the greater part female; glumes acuminate, greenish or pallid tinged with yellow. This variety is distinguished from the other variety recognised in South Australia C. inversa var. inversa which is smaller (to 30 cm high) and have no transverse bars on the utricle. Flowering between September and April. Fruits are green-brown, short clusters of heads each containing numerous individual fruit. Seeds are smooth brown ellipsoid nut to 2 mm long and 1.5 mm wide, covered by a papery layer (utricle), with strong transverse nerves and a pointed forked tip. Seed embryo type is capitate.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between December and April. Collect fruits either by running your hands along the heads; 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
7,500 (8 g)
7,500 (8 g)
Southern Lofty
1-Aug-2007100%+5°C, -18°C
BGA7,500 (7.8 g)30+9-Feb-2011TST1139
South Eastern
BGA19,600 (19.6 g)100+16-Nov-2015TST1241
Kangaroo Island
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.
Germination table: