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Scorched Alpine Sedge

Carex atrofusca

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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, Close-headed Alpine Sedge, 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, 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:
20 centimetres tall
Bogs, gardens, mountains, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
Blackish-brown oval-shaped flower spikes, more obviously nodding than the similar looking Black Alpine Sedge (Carex atrata). Also, the glumes are more purple in colour than those of Black Alpine Sedge. 3 stigmas.
Dark purple fruit which are abruptly narrowed towards the beak. The fruits of Black Alpine Sedge are yellowish.
Simple, linear, alternate leaves. The stems are bluntly 3-sided. Black Alpine Sedge has sharp 3-sided stems. Perennial.
Other Names:
Dark Brown Sedge, Dark Green Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Carex atrofusca, also known as dark green sedge, is a species of perennial sedge that is native to North America. It typically grows in wet or moist habitats, such as wetlands, bogs, and along the edges of streams and ponds. The leaves of C. atrofusca are dark green. The species is often used in landscaping and gardening due to its attractive foliage and ability to tolerate wet conditions.


Scorched Alpine Sedge, also known as Carex atrofusca, is a small but important plant species that is native to the alpine regions of western North America. This unique sedge is an important component of alpine ecosystems, where it plays a crucial role in stabilizing soils, preventing erosion, and providing habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Description and Habitat

Scorched Alpine Sedge is a perennial sedge that grows up to 20 cm tall. It has narrow, dark green leaves that grow in clumps and are slightly curled. The plant produces small, greenish flowers in dense clusters that are held above the leaves on thin stems. The flowers are wind-pollinated, and the plant produces small, triangular seeds that are dispersed by the wind.

Scorched Alpine Sedge is found in alpine and subalpine ecosystems, where it grows in open, rocky areas, as well as in meadows, streambanks, and talus slopes. It is most commonly found at elevations between 2000 and 3500 meters, although it can occur at lower and higher elevations under certain conditions.

Ecological Importance

Scorched Alpine Sedge is an important plant species in alpine ecosystems, where it provides several important ecological services. One of the most important functions of this plant is to stabilize soils and prevent erosion. The plant has an extensive root system that helps to hold soil in place and prevent it from being washed away by rain and snowmelt. This is particularly important in alpine ecosystems, where soils are often shallow and fragile.

In addition to its role in stabilizing soils, Scorched Alpine Sedge also provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species. The dense clumps of leaves and stems provide shelter and nesting sites for small mammals, such as pikas and marmots, as well as for birds, such as ptarmigan and finches. The plant also provides a food source for several herbivorous animals, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep.

Threats and Conservation

Scorched Alpine Sedge is a relatively common plant species, but it is still threatened by a variety of human activities, including mining, recreational activities, and climate change. Mining activities, in particular, can have a significant impact on the plant, as they can destroy the fragile alpine soils that the plant relies on for survival.

In addition to these threats, Scorched Alpine Sedge is also vulnerable to climate change, which is causing temperatures to rise and precipitation patterns to change in alpine ecosystems. This can alter the plant's habitat and make it more difficult for the plant to survive.

To protect Scorched Alpine Sedge and other alpine plant species, conservation efforts are needed. These may include habitat restoration, protection of sensitive areas, and education and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the importance of these unique ecosystems.

Scorched Alpine Sedge is a small but important plant species that plays a crucial role in alpine ecosystems. With its ability to stabilize soils, provide habitat for wildlife, and provide a food source for herbivorous animals, this plant is an integral part of alpine ecosystems. As such, efforts to protect and conserve this species are important for maintaining the health and integrity of alpine ecosystems in western North America.

More Information

Scorched Alpine Sedge is not only important for its ecological roles, but it also has cultural significance. The plant has been used by indigenous peoples for a variety of purposes, including as a traditional medicine and as a material for weaving baskets and mats. These cultural practices demonstrate the value of this plant beyond its ecological functions and highlight the importance of maintaining biodiversity and preserving traditional knowledge.

One of the challenges in studying and conserving Scorched Alpine Sedge is its small size and inconspicuous nature. It can be difficult to detect and study, and its importance may be overlooked in favor of more charismatic species. However, recent advances in technology, such as remote sensing and DNA analysis, are helping researchers to better understand the distribution and genetic diversity of this plant and other alpine species.

Conservation efforts for Scorched Alpine Sedge and other alpine species are also important for mitigating the impacts of climate change. Alpine ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as they are located at the tops of mountains where temperatures are increasing at a faster rate than at lower elevations. By protecting and conserving these ecosystems, we can help to maintain biodiversity, support local communities, and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Scorched Alpine Sedge is a small but important plant species that plays a critical role in alpine ecosystems. Its ecological functions, cultural significance, and vulnerability to human activities and climate change highlight the importance of conservation efforts to protect this and other alpine species. By working to conserve these ecosystems, we can help to ensure a healthy and vibrant future for alpine landscapes and the species that call them home.

In addition to its ecological, cultural, and conservation significance, Scorched Alpine Sedge is also of interest to scientists studying plant adaptation and evolution. The plant's ability to survive in harsh alpine environments, where temperatures can be extreme and resources are limited, makes it a model system for studying plant responses to environmental stress. Researchers are studying the genetic and physiological mechanisms that enable this plant to survive in such challenging conditions, with the hope of identifying strategies that can be used to improve crop plants and other species that are vulnerable to environmental stress.

Furthermore, Scorched Alpine Sedge is an important indicator species for monitoring the health of alpine ecosystems. Changes in the distribution and abundance of this plant can signal changes in the ecosystem as a whole, such as changes in soil conditions, water availability, or temperature. By monitoring the health of alpine ecosystems through the presence or absence of Scorched Alpine Sedge and other indicator species, conservationists and land managers can make informed decisions about how to best protect these sensitive and important ecosystems.

Overall, Scorched Alpine Sedge is a fascinating and important plant species that is well worth studying and conserving. Its ecological, cultural, and scientific significance, as well as its vulnerability to human activities and climate change, highlight the importance of ongoing research and conservation efforts to protect this and other alpine species. Through these efforts, we can help to ensure the continued health and vitality of alpine ecosystems and the many species that depend on them.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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