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Key to Carex, Key C: Subkey in Carex

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1 Perigynia surfaces and beak often pubescent, finely papillate
1 Perigynia glabrous, papillate or not.
..2 Lateral spikes usually pedunculate; lowermost inflorescence bracts sometimes with sheath; peduncles with prophyll at base.
....3 Terminal spike gynecandrous, pistillate flowers as many as or more numerous than staminate; lateral spikes short, not much longer than wide; fresh perigynia white-pulverulent
....3 Terminal spike usually staminate or, sometimes, gynecandrous, staminate flowers then more numerous than pistillate; lateral spikes oblong, distinctly longer than wide; fresh perigynia green or slightly glaucous.
......4 Pistillate scales obtuse to acuminate or cuspidate.
........5 Perigynia often papillose over most of the surface; style deciduous
..2 Lateral spikes sessile; bracts sheathless; peduncles without (or rarely with) a prophyll
..........6 Perigynia papillose (visible at 20× magnification).
image of plant
Show caption*© Scott Ward
............ 7 Terminal spike staminate, androgynous, or gynecandrous (if gynecandrous, the staminate flowers more numerous than the pistillate); lateral spikes at least 2× as long as wide
image of plant
Show caption*© Scott Ward
............ 7 Terminal spike staminate or gynecandrous (if gynecandrous, the pistillate flowers more numerous than the staminate); lateral spikes not much longer than wide
..........6 Perigynia smooth.
............ ..8 Terminal spike gynecandrous; lateral spikes gynecandrous or pistillate.
............ ..........12 Margins of perigynia flat, at least in the upper ½, flat portion (measured at the tip of the achene and base of beak) > (0.1-) 0.2 mm wider
............ ............ 13 Achenes rounded at apex (style dehiscing at the surface of the achene); style conspicuously enlarged at the base
............ ............ 13 Achenes with short apiculus formed by the persistent base of the style; style not conspicuously enlarged at base
............ ..........12 Margins of perigynia rounded, or with flat portion < 0.1 mm wide.
............ ............ ..14 Margins of perigynia rounded or with a very narrow rounded edge; achenes nearly filling the perigynium bodies
............ ............ ..14 Margins of perigynia sharply edged or narrowly winged; achenes distinctly smaller than the perigynium bodies.
............ ............ ....15 Inflorescences in fruit 1.5-2 (or more)× as long as wide.
............ ............ ......16 Lowermost perigynia in each spike ascending or erect.
............ ............ ........17 Perigynium serrulate on the margins of the upper body and lower beak
............ ............ ........17 Perigynium entire on the margins of the upper body and the lower beak
............ ..8 Terminal spike androgynous (rarely entirely staminate or entirely pistillate); lateral spikes androgynous, staminate, or pistillate.
............ ....9 Sheath fronts of lower cauline leaves transversely rugose.
............ ......10 Perigynia mostly > 2× as long as wide, widest near the base
............ ......10 Perigynia mostly < 2× as long as wide, widest near middle.
............ ........11 Inflorescence usually branched, at least at the base, usually with > 15 spikes; pistillate scales usually yellow or brown, sometimes with hyaline margins, 3-veined
............ ........11 Inflorescence unbranched or with 1 or 2 short branches at the base, with < 15 spikes; pistillate scales greenish hyaline, 1-veined
............ ....9 Sheath fronts of lower cauline leaves smooth (or very weakly and indistinctly transversely rugose).
............ ............ ..........18 Fronts of leaf sheaths dotted red, brown, or yellow.
............ ............ ............ 19 Perigynia widest near the middle; culms usually < 1 mm wide.
............ ............ ............ ..20 Plants densely cespitose, with short rhizomes; pistillate scales acute to acuminate
............ ............ ............ ..20 Plants loosely cespitose, sometimes with long rhizomes; pistillate scales (at least the upper) obtuse
............ ............ ..........18 Fronts of leaf sheaths not dotted red, brown, or yellow.
............ ............ ............ ....21 Perigynium beak > 0.25 mm long, the margins often serrulate.
............ ............ ............ ......22 Upper leaves of culms with front of sheaths green-veined, not differentiated from the rest of the sheath
............ ............ ............ ......22 Upper leaves of culms with front of sheaths with at least a narrow hyaline or whitish-hyaline band extending at least ½ the length of the sheath.
............ ............ ............ ........23 Perigynia with flat, winglike margins > 0.1 mm wide; plants long-rhizomatous, not cespitose, sometimes forming large colonies
............ ............ ............ ........23 Perigynia without a flat margin, or with a flat margin < 0.1 mm wide; plants short-rhizomatous or inconspicuously rhizomatous, cespitose or not, sometimes forming large colonies.
............ ............ ............ ..........24 Plants colonial from long rhizomes or stoloniferous (proliferating from last year’s decumbent sterile culms)
............ ............ ............ ............ 25 Plants long stoloniferous, proliferating from last year’s decumbent sterile culms
image of plant
Show caption*© Scott Ward
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Spikes not consistently androgynous, the terminal either entirely staminate or pistillate, the lateral spikes irregularly pistillate, or staminate, or mixed
image of plant
Show caption*© Scott Ward
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Spikes consistently androgynous, occasionally some of the lateral spikes entirely pistillate.

Key to Carex, Key D: Subkey in Carex

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1 Pistillate spikes all from the base of the plant
1 Pistillate spikes all or in part borne on the elongate, aboveground stem.
..2 Bracts of the lowermost non-basal spike with well-developed sheath > 4 mm long.
....3 Beak of perigynium with distinct teeth > 0.6 mm long
....3 Beak of perigynium entire, notched, or with indistinct teeth < 0.6 mm long.
......4 Bracts of the lowermost non-basal spike bladeless, or with a blade < 2 mm long.
........5 Perigynia 4-5 mm long; leaf blades 4-8 mm wide
......4 Bracts of the lowermost non-basal spike with blade > 3 mm long (and often much longer).
..........6 Achene tip with persistent, enlarged, circular style base
..........6 Achene tip with at most a short apiculus.
............ 7 Leaves usually glabrous, to scabrous on the veins.
............ ..8 Bases of plants distinctly red or purple.
............ ....9 Lowermost pistillate scales awned; leaves somewhat septate-nodulose; plants usually long-rhizomatous and forming large clonal colonies
............ ....9 Lowermost pistillate scales obtuse to acuminate; leaves not septate-nodulose; plants cespitose, short-rhizomatous
..2 Bracts of the lowermost non-basal spike sheathless or with sheath < 4 mm long.
............ ......10 Perigynia > 10 mm long.
............ ........11 Pistillate spikes globose, about as long as wide; staminate spikes usually 1
............ ........11 Pistillate spikes cylindric, much longer than wide; staminate spikes 1-8
............ ......10 Perigynia < 10 mm long.
............ ..........12 Perigynium beak entire or with teeth < 0.6 mm long.
............ ............ 13 Terminal spike gynecandrous or pistillate
............ ............ ..14 Perigynia glabrous or pubescent.
............ ............ 13 Terminal spike staminate (or rarely androgynous).
............ ............ ......16 Leaf sheaths (and usually the blades as well) pubescent.
............ ............ ........17 Pistillate scales sometimes pubescent; pistillate spikes with 40-200 perigynia
............ ............ ........17 Pistillate scales glabrous; pistillate spikes with < 40 (-50) perigynia.
............ ............ ..........18 Perigynia usually < 3.2 mm long, the apex rounded and beakless, or abruptly beaked
............ ............ ..........18 Perigynia > 3.5 mm long, the tip tapering or abruptly beaked.
............ ............ ............ 19 Longer peduncles of pistillate spikes > 1 cm long; perigynia > 3× as long as wide, tapering gradually to the base
............ ............ ............ 19 Longer peduncles of pistillate spikes 0-1 cm long; perigynia < 3× as long as wide, abruptly contracted to a short stipe at the base.
............ ............ ......16 Leaf sheaths and blades glabrous to scabrous.
............ ............ ............ ....21 Achene tip with at most a short apiculus.
............ ............ ............ ......22 Leaf blades scabrous on the upper surface; beak of perigynium recurved
............ ............ ............ ......22 Leaf blades glabrous on the upper surface, often with rough margins or tip; beak of perigynium straight.
............ ............ ............ ........23 Fronts of sheaths of lower leaves ladder-fibrillose; leaves and sheaths septate-nodulose (sometimes obscurely so)
............ ............ ............ ........23 Fronts of leaf sheaths not ladder-fibrillose, sometimes breaking into longitudinal fibers; leaves and sheaths not septate-nodulose.
............ ............ ............ ..........24 Perigynia strongly 12-30-veined.
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Leaf blades, at least toward the tip, M-shaped in cross-section when young, the upper surface usually with 2 marginal veins more prominent than the midvein; staminate spikes 1-4
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Leaf blades V-shaped in cross-section when young, the upper surface lacking 2 marginal veins more prominent than the midrib; staminate spike 1
............ ............ ............ ............ ....27 Proximal pistillate spike pendulous, perigynia usually > 30 per spike; terminal staminate spikes 1-3; [exotic]
............ ............ ............ ............ ....27 Proximal pistillate spike erect, perigynia < 25 per spike; terminal staminate spikes 1; [native].
............ ............ ............ ............ ......28 Plants with most pistillate spikes on obvious elongated stems; culms shorter than or longer than the leaves.

Key to Carex, Key E: Subkey in Carex

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1 Apex of perigynium beak with 2 teeth at least (0.4-) 0.5 mm long.
..2 Perigynia with 2 distinct marginal veins, otherwise veinless or only very faintly veined; leaves not septate-nodulose
..2 Perigynia with 5+ distinct veins; at least proximal leaves septate-nodulose, rarely not.
....3 Perigynia with serrulate wing on margins; spikes usually 20+, sessile, pistillate or androgynous and similar in appearance, forming a dense, ovoid or oblong head, rarely with proximal spike separated
....3 Perigynia without wing on margins; spikes not more than 10, usually at least proximal shortly pedunculate, sometimes subsessile, distal and proximal spikes usually dissimilar in appearance, usually not crowded into a dense head.
......4 Pistillate scales obtuse to acuminate, awnless or at most with a rough apiculus.
........5 Staminate spike usually 1; perigynia 15-20-veined, each 10-20 mm long
........5 Staminate spikes usually 1-3+; perigynia 6-15 (-22)-veined, each 4-10 (-12.5) mm.
..........6 Perigynia 14-25-veined
............ 7 Perigynia narrowly ovate to subglobose, 2-2.5× as long as wide
......4 Pistillate scales, at least some, with a scabrous awn.
............ ..8 Perigynia (9-) 10+ mm long.
............ ....9 Pistillate spikes cylindric, much longer than wide; staminate spikes (1-) 2-6
............ ....9 Pistillate spikes globose, ovoid, or cylindric, about as long as wide; staminate spikes usually 1
............ ..8 Perigynia < 9 mm long.
............ ......10 Upper pistillate scales acute to short-awned, awn < ½ as long as the body.
............ ........11 Beak of perigynia with teeth often < 1 mm long.
............ ..........12 Staminate spikes 1 (-4); perigynium beak > 1.7 mm long
............ ..........12 Staminate spikes 1-6; perigynium beak often < 1.7 mm long.
............ ............ 13 Perigynia veined only at base; widest leaves < 4 mm wide
............ ............ 13 Perigynium veined to tip of body and often into beak; widest leaves mostly > 4 mm wide.
............ ............ ..14 Pistillate scales with margins serrulate distally; awn, when present, rough.
............ ............ ....15 Perigynia 2.5-8 × 1.2-3.5 mm; staminate spikes usually 3-7
............ ............ ..14 Pistillate scales with margins entire; awn, when present, usually smooth.
............ ............ ......16 Perigynia 14-25-veined.
............ ............ ........17 Perigynia narrowly ovate to subglobose, 2-2.5× as long as wide
1 Apex of perigynium beak entire, emarginate, or with 2 teeth < 0.5 mm long.
............ ............ ..........18 Perigynia minutely papillose, at least distally (at 20× magnification).
............ ............ ............ 19 Roots brown or black, without yellow-brown felty covering, rarely with white felty covering.
............ ............ ............ ..20 Leaf blades and/or sheaths pubescent, at least at junction of blade and sheath
............ ............ ............ ..20 Leaf blades and sheaths glabrous.
............ ............ ............ ....21 Terminal spike staminate or androgynous.
............ ............ ............ ......22 Pistillate scales obtuse to acuminate or with awn < 1 mm long; staminate scales not awned
............ ............ ..........18 Perigynia not papillose, essentially smooth.
............ ............ ............ ..........24 Perigynia with distinct beak 0.5-4 mm long.
............ ............ ............ ..........24 Perigynia beakless or with beak < 0.5 mm long.
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Adaxial side of leaves with 2 marginal veins more prominent than midvein; young leaves M-shaped in cross section.
............ ............ ............ ............ ....27 Perigynia ovoid, usually > 1.5× as long as wide; apex tapered to beak; sheaths of proximal leaves not septate-nodulose
............ ............ ............ ............ ....27 Perigynia subcircular, < 1.2× as long as wide; apex rounded, abruptly beaked; sheaths of proximal leaves septate-nodulose
............ ............ ............ ............ ..26 Adaxial side of leaves without 2 marginal veins more prominent than midvein; young leaves V-shaped or rounded in cross section.
............ ............ ............ ........23 Terminal spike staminate or androgynous.
............ ............ ............ ............ ..........30 Leaves and/or sheaths pubescent, at least at junction of blade and sheath.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ 31 Leaves < 8 mm wide, blades and usually also the sheaths pubescent.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..32 Perigynium beak 0.5-3 mm long, often > 1 mm long, about 1/2 the length of the body; proximal pistillate scales awned
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..32 Perigynium beak absent or not more than 0.5 (-0.7) mm long, not > 1/4 the length of the body; proximal pistillate scales acute, acuminate or cuspidate.
............ ............ ............ ............ ..........30 Leaves and sheaths usually glabrous, rarely papillose.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....33 Style persistent on achene in fruit; larger leaves and sheaths usually at least sparsely septate-nodulose, rarely not.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ......34 Perigynia < 10 mm long; staminate spikes 1-5 (-7).
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........35 Pistillate scales with margins serrulate distally, apex usually rough-awned.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........35 Pistillate scales with margins entire, apex awnless or with short, smooth awn.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ....33 Style deciduous; larger leaves and sheaths sometimes septate-nodulose, more often not.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..38 Leaf blades, at least widest, M-shaped in cross section when young, adaxial surface with 2 marginal veins more prominent than midvein.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..38 Leaf blades V-shaped in cross section when young, adaxial surface without 2 marginal veins more prominent than midvein.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........41 Proximal perigynia in each spike spreading at right angles or reflexed at maturity; leaf blades and sheaths sparsely septate-nodulose
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ........41 Proximal perigynia in each spike ascending or spreading-ascending; leaf blades and sheaths not septate-nodulose.
............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ............ ..........42 Plant base red or purple tinged, sometimes only sparsely so.
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