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Close-headed Alpine Sedge

Carex norvegica

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cyperaceae (Sedge)
Also in this family:
American Galingale, Birdsfoot Sedge, Black Alpine Sedge, Black Bog-rush, Bladder Sedge, Bog Sedge, Bottle Sedge, Bristle Club-rush, Bristle Sedge, Broad-leaved Cotton-grass, Brown Beak-sedge, Brown Bog-rush, Chestnut Rush, Club Sedge, Common Club-rush, Common Cotton-grass, Common Sedge, Common Spike-rush, Curved Sedge, Deergrass, Dioecious Sedge, Distant Sedge, Divided Sedge, Dotted Sedge, Downy-fruited Sedge, Dwarf Sedge, Dwarf Spike-rush, Estuarine Sedge, False Fox Sedge, False Sedge, Few-flowered Sedge, Few-flowered Spike-rush, Fibrous Tussock Sedge, Fingered Sedge, Flat Sedge, Flea Sedge, Floating Club-rush, Gingerbread Sedge, Glaucous Sedge, Great Fen Sedge, Greater Pond Sedge, Greater Tussock Sedge, Green-ribbed Sedge, Grey Club-rush, Grey Sedge, Hair Sedge, Hairy Sedge, Haresfoot Sedge, Hare's-tail Cotton-grass, Heath Sedge, Hop Sedge, Large Yellow Sedge, Lesser Pond Sedge, Lesser Tussock Sedge, Long-bracted Sedge, Many-stalked Spike-rush, Mountain Bog Sedge, Needle Spike-rush, Northern Deergrass, Northern Spike-rush, Oval Sedge, Pale Sedge, Pendulous Sedge, Perennial Sedge, Pill Sedge, Prickly Sedge, Remote Sedge, Rock Sedge, Round-headed Club-rush, Russet Sedge, Salt Sedge, Sand Sedge, Scorched Alpine Sedge, Sea Club-rush, Sheathed Sedge, Slender Club-rush, Slender Cotton-grass, Slender Sedge, Slender Spike-rush, Slender Tufted Sedge, Smooth-stalked Sedge, Soft-leaved Sedge, Spiked Sedge, Spring Sedge, Star Sedge, Starved Wood Sedge, Stiff Sedge, String Sedge, Sweet Galingale, Tall Bog Sedge, Tawny Sedge, Thin-spiked Wood Sedge, Triangular Club-rush, True Fox Sedge, Tufted Sedge, Water Sedge, White Beak-sedge, White Sedge, Wood Club-rush, Wood Sedge, Yellow Sedge
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Bogs, cliffs, fens, gardens, grassland, heathland, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, rocky places, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
Very short-stalked, dark brown or black flower spikes. The top spike is larger than the lower, lateral spikes. Purplish-black glumes.
Dull greenish-brown, black near the tips. Fruits are produced in July and August.
A perennial grass-like sedge. Simple, alternate, linear, green leaves, up to 3mm wide. The 3-sided stems are erect and vertical. Close-headed Alpine Sedge is a rare flower which can be found in Scotland on rocky mountain slopes.
Other Names:
Norwegian Sedge, Scandinavian Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex norvegica, also known as Norwegian sedge, is a species of sedge native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is a perennial herb growing up to 1m tall. It typically grows in wetland habitats such as bogs, fens, and along the margins of lakes and rivers. The leaves are narrow, and the flowers are small and arranged in spikes. The fruit is a small achene. It's a popular ornamental plant and can be used to stabilize soil in wetland restoration projects. It's also used in landscaping and gardening. It's also a food plant for the caterpillars of some species of moths, such as the sedge pug.


Close-headed Alpine Sedge, also known as Carex norvegica, is a species of sedge plant that is commonly found in alpine environments throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. This plant is highly adaptable and is often found in areas with harsh environmental conditions, such as cold temperatures, strong winds, and poor soil quality. In this blog, we will discuss the characteristics and importance of Close-headed Alpine Sedge.


Close-headed Alpine Sedge is a perennial plant that grows to a height of 10-30cm. It has a basal tuft of leaves that are long and narrow, with a sharp point at the end. The leaves are usually green, but can sometimes have a bluish tinge to them. The plant has a dense cluster of spikelets, which are made up of many small flowers, at the top of its stem. The spikelets are brown in color and can be up to 4cm in length. Close-headed Alpine Sedge flowers from June to August.

Habitat and Distribution

Close-headed Alpine Sedge is typically found in alpine and subalpine environments, where it grows in moist meadows, rocky areas, and alongside streams and rivers. This plant is adapted to withstand harsh conditions, such as cold temperatures and strong winds, and can often be found growing in areas that receive snow and ice cover for much of the year.

Close-headed Alpine Sedge is found in Europe, Asia, and North America, and is commonly found at high elevations in mountain ranges such as the Alps, the Rocky Mountains, and the Himalayas. It is also found in the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.


Close-headed Alpine Sedge is an important plant in alpine ecosystems, as it provides habitat and food for a variety of animals. The dense cluster of spikelets at the top of the plant provides a valuable source of food for small mammals, such as voles and shrews, as well as for birds, such as finches and grouse. The plant also provides cover and nesting sites for birds and other small animals.

In addition to its ecological importance, Close-headed Alpine Sedge has been used by humans for a variety of purposes. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive disorders and skin irritations. The plant has also been used for weaving baskets and mats, and its roots have been used to make a red dye.


Close-headed Alpine Sedge is also an interesting plant to study because of its unique adaptations to alpine environments. For example, the plant's long, narrow leaves help to reduce water loss and withstand strong winds. The dense cluster of spikelets at the top of the plant also helps to protect the plant's reproductive structures from cold temperatures and harsh weather conditions.

In addition, Close-headed Alpine Sedge has been studied for its potential as a bioindicator of climate change. As temperatures in alpine environments increase, the plant's range may shift to higher elevations or become more fragmented, which could have a ripple effect on the ecosystem as a whole. By monitoring the distribution and abundance of Close-headed Alpine Sedge, scientists can gain insights into the effects of climate change on alpine ecosystems.

Another interesting aspect of Close-headed Alpine Sedge is its relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. Like many plant species, Close-headed Alpine Sedge forms a symbiotic relationship with fungi, in which the plant provides the fungi with carbohydrates in exchange for nutrients and water. This relationship is particularly important in alpine environments, where the soil is often poor in nutrients and water is scarce. Understanding the relationship between Close-headed Alpine Sedge and mycorrhizal fungi can provide insights into how plants and fungi interact in extreme environments.

Overall, Close-headed Alpine Sedge is a fascinating plant with many interesting characteristics and ecological and cultural importance. Studying this plant and its role in alpine ecosystems can help us to better understand the challenges and opportunities of living in extreme environments, and can also inform efforts to protect and conserve these fragile ecosystems for future generations.

Close-headed Alpine Sedge is not considered to be a threatened species, but it is important to protect alpine and subalpine habitats to ensure the survival of this and other alpine plants and animals. Climate change and human activities, such as tourism and development, can have a negative impact on alpine ecosystems, and it is important to manage these activities in a sustainable way to protect these fragile environments.

Close-headed Alpine Sedge is a fascinating plant that is well adapted to the harsh conditions of alpine environments. Its importance to alpine ecosystems, as well as its historical and cultural significance, make it an important species to study and protect.

Close-headed Alpine Sedge is also an important plant in terms of its ability to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. In alpine environments where the soil is thin and rocky, Close-headed Alpine Sedge's roots help to hold the soil in place and prevent it from being washed away by heavy rains or melting snow. This is important for maintaining the stability of the slopes and preventing soil erosion, which can have negative impacts on downstream habitats.

The plant's ability to thrive in harsh environments also makes it a valuable species for research in biotechnology and agriculture. Scientists are studying Close-headed Alpine Sedge's ability to tolerate extreme temperatures, poor soil quality, and low water availability, with the goal of developing crops that can grow in similar conditions. This could have important implications for food security in areas with poor soil quality or limited access to water.

Finally, Close-headed Alpine Sedge is an important species for traditional and cultural practices in many areas. For example, the plant's roots have been used to make a traditional red dye in some Native American cultures. In other cultures, the plant has been used for weaving baskets or mats. Understanding the cultural significance of Close-headed Alpine Sedge can help to ensure that traditional practices are respected and preserved.

In summary, Close-headed Alpine Sedge is a unique and important plant with many ecological, cultural, and economic values. Its ability to thrive in harsh environments, as well as its significance to alpine ecosystems and traditional practices, make it an important species to study and protect. By continuing to learn about Close-headed Alpine Sedge and its role in our world, we can better understand the challenges and opportunities of living in extreme environments and develop strategies for protecting and conserving these important habitats.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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