Carex uncinata


Carex: Latin name for a species of sedge, now applied to the whole group.
uncinata: hooked

Common Name(s)

bastard grass, hook sedge, kamu, matau-a-maui

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

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 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Carex uncinata L.f.



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



Uncinia uncinata (L.f.) Kük.; Uncinia australis Pers.; Uncinia alopecuroides Colenso; Uncinia bractata Colenso; Uncinia pedicellata Kük.; Uncinia uncinata var. pedicellata (Kük.) Petrie; Uncinia australis var pedicellata (Kük.) Petrie; Uncinia uncinata var. laxior Carse;


Indigenous: New Zealand. North, South, Stewart, Chatham and Auckland Islands. Also in the Hawaiian Islands.


Coastal to montane (up to 1000 m a.s.l.). Widespread and common in most indigenous habitats from dense forest to open shrubland. Rarely colonising the margins of wetlands. Sometimes found as an urban weed in hedgerows, along river banks or in parks.


Caespitose, yellow-green to dark green sedge. Culms 100–900 x 1.0–1.5 mm, glabrous, or occasionally scabrid just below inflorescence; basal sheaths dull brown. Leaves 5–10 per culm, ± = culms, or > flowering culms, 2–5 mm wide, dark green or occasionally reddish green, strongly scabrid on the margins and on the adaxial surface towards the tip. Spikes 55–200 x 2.0–3.5 mm, usually bracteate, female flowers numerous, usually c.60–120, very closely crowded throughout almost the whole spike, internodes 0.5–1.5 mm long. Glumes usually < but occasionally slightly > utricles, deciduous, ovate, obtuse or subacute, coriaceous, yellowish with a green midrib or often entirely dark brown, occasionally greenish pink. Utricles 4–5 mm long, slightly > 1 mm. diameter, plano-convex or concavo-convex, lustrous, with usually one prominent lateral nerve on the abaxial face and 3–4 faint nerves on the adaxial face, yellowish to dull brown, stipe 1.0–1.5 mm. long, beak slightly > 1 mm. long; scarcely spreading when ripe.

Similar Taxa

Carex uncinata is the most variable of the New Zealand species. It is chiefly distinguished by the number of female flowers which range from 35-180, and by the length of spikes (55-200 mm long). The glumes of this species are also characteristically deciduous. However, some forms are known where the glumes are persistent. The leaves of C. uncinata are usually dark green to yellow-green but in the southern part of its range dark red colour forms are known.


August - December


Throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and by the division of established plants (though these may then take a while to settle). In the southern part of its range C. uncinata plants are often dark wine-red, it is this form which is erroneosuly sold as Uncinia rubra in the horticultural trade.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 88

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family



Fact Sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (18 August 2006). Description adapted from Moore and Edgar (1970) - see also de Lange et al. (2013).

References and further reading

de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Rolfe, J.R. 2013: Uncinia auceps(Cyperaceae): a new endemic hooked sedge for the Chatham Islands. Phytotaxa 104 (1): 12–20. doi: 10.11646/phytotaxa.104.12

Moore, L.B.; Edgar, E. 1970: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. II. Government Printer, Wellington.

This page last updated on 14 Nov 2016