FLORA OF ICELAND elements: Carex bigelowii, Stiff Sedge

Carex bigelowii; The Stiff Sedge is a very common sedge growing almost everywhere on Iceland, but for the most barren desert areas of the interior highlands. It is one of the smaller sedges (about 30 cm tall give or take 10cm more or less) wich one can recognize by the well-developed rosette leaves (through rootstocks many plantlets are often found on one spot) and the cylindrical shaped female (usually 2) and male spikes. The spikes are closely spaced on a stiff culm.

The Stiff Sedge (C. bigelowii) resembles the other very common sedege on Iceland, being the Common Sedge (C. nigra). The fundamental differences are:
- The spikelets are compactly grouped at the top of the stiff sedge flowering stalk, whereas they are more freely spaced along the flowering stalk in the common sedge;
- The number of flowers/utricles on the female spikes is considerably less on the stiff sedge than on the common sedge;
- The leaf margins are rolled up in the stiff sedge (not in the common sedge);
- Very characteristic are the black bands on the sheaths below the bracts of the spikes, especially of the lowest spike, on the stiff sedge. The common sedge misses this feature.
It is a member of the sedge family (Cyperaceae). The Icelandic name of this species is Stinnastör.

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A brief introduction to Iceland plants
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk - unless stated otherwise


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