Carex litorosa


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
litorosa: From the Latin littus 'shore', meaning shore-loving or growing on the shore

Common Name(s)

Sea Sedge

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Declining
2004 - Serious Decline


2012 - RR


Carex litorosa L.H.Bailey



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Carex littoralis Petrie, Carex australis Kirk


Endemic to North, South and Stewart Islands.


Coastal in salty, brackish marshes and on sandy, tidal river banks.


An upright sedge to 800 mm tall (but usually smaller), that forms pale green or reddish, dense tussocks with curly tops. Leaves are flat on one side, curved on the other and slightly serrated along the edge, 1.5 mm wide and about the same length as the flower stem. Flower stems are cylindrical and upright, with light brown spikes.

Similar Taxa

Carex divisa, which also grows in saltmarshes but has blue-grey leaves, and smaller, compact black spikes borne on long stems near the apex of the leaves of each tussock.


October to December


December to April (but seedheads long persistent)

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed and by the divison of whole plants. Very easy to grow in a range of substrates.


Habitat loss through coastal development. Encroachment by weeds is a serious problem in the North Island, especially from species such as spartina, tall fescue and Carex divisa.

Chromosome No.

2n = 48

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Nuts surrounded by inflated utricles are dispersed by granivory and wind (Thorsen et al., 2009).




Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 2 September 2003.

References and further reading

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 30 May 2014