Carex gunniana Boott

Swamp Sedge

Proc. Linn. Soc. London 1: 258 (1845) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Threat status:Victoria: rare (r)

Usually densely tufted. Culms erect, trigonous, smooth, 1–70 cm long, 0.6–1.5 mm diam. Leaves shorter or longer than culms, 3–10 mm wide; sheath pale brown, faintly transversely-septate; ligule obtuse to rounded, mostly faintly red-dotted. Inflorescence narrow, spreading to erect, with spikes solitary at nodes; lowest involucral bract shorter than inflorescence but bracts at upper nodes exceeding inflorescence. Spikes short-pedunculate, upper ± contiguous, lowest very distant (internode to 25 cm long), spreading to erect at maturity, 1–4.5 cm long; uppermost spike male; lower spikes female; glumes obtuse to acute, often shortly mucronate (mostly to 0.5 mm long, occasionally to 1 mm long), pale red-brown; female glumes 2.5–4 mm long; utricles 3.5–6 mm long, c. 2 mm diam., ellipsoid to ovoid, strongly several-nerved, glabrous, green, dotted red-brown; beak 0.5–2 mm long, with apex bifid to notched; style 3-fid. Nut broad-obovoid, trigonous, dark yellow-brown to nearly black. Flowers in late spring and summer.

Brid, CVU, DunT, EGU, GipP, Glep, Gold, GGr, HSF, SnM, Strz, VAlp, VVP, WaP. Rather uncommon, occurring mainly on swampy ground adjacent to watercourses in the lowlands of the south-west, with a single collection from Eucalyptus pauciflora woodland on Major Mitchell Plateau, and with a few occurrences in the eastern part of the state (e.g. Beenak, Wilsons Promontory, Nunniong Plateau etc.).

Two varieties of Carex gunniana have been recognised as occurring in Victoria, C. gunniana var. gunniana and C. gunniana var. brevior Kuk. The latter was distinguished by its smaller stature, long rhizome, stiff leaves, shorter inflorescence, shorter female glumes, shorter utricles and shorter beaks. The solitary (undated, ? 1880's) collection has the locality given simply as 'Gippsland, Victoria'. No Victorian-collected specimens held at MEL keys to C. gunniana var. brevior using the key to the varieties in the printed volume of the the Flora of Victoria. The specimen from Major Mitchell Plateau previously attributed to C. gunniana var. brevior has been redetermined as C. gunniana in a broad sense, and it does not match the characters for C. gunniana var. brevior as given in the key. After examination of the range of specimens of C. gunniana in Victoria, it is likely that var. brevior merely represents a dwarf, high altitude form of the species and consequently is not maintained in this treatment.

Carex gunniana is somewhat similar in appearance to Carex brownii (see notes under C. brownii).

Source: Wilson, K.L. (1994). Cyperaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 2, Ferns and Allied Plants, Conifers and Monocotyledons. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-07-24
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Lilianae
order Poales
family Cyperaceae
genus Carex
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Carex gunniana in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Carex gunniana in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Glenelg Plain present native
Bridgewater present native
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Gippsland Plain present native
Warrnambool Plain present native
Goldfields present native
Central Victorian Uplands present native
Greater Grampians present native
Dundas Tablelands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Highlands-Southern Fall present native
Strzelecki Ranges present native
Victorian Alps present native
Snowy Mountains present native

State distribution

Distribution map
South Australia
New South Wales