New York Natural Heritage Program
Cat-tail Sedge
Carex typhina Michx.

General Description [-]
Carex typhina is a tufted, perennial, grass-like plant. It has strap-like leaves that are 3.9-8.7 mm wide. Arising from the leaves at the bases of the plants are stems that are 30-80 cm tall. Leaves and secondary branches with flower/fruit clusters occur on the main stems. The fruit clusters are erect with the fruits densely crowded. Fruits are 5.5-7.8 mm long (Ford & Reznicek 2002).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
Carex frankii is easiest to identify when the perigynia are just immature or mature but not yet shedding heavily.

Similar Species [-]
Carex squarrosa is somewhat similar. It differs in having 1-2(-3) spikes (including the terminal one), lower perigynia spreading to reflexed, styles persistent and curved, and achenes 1.9-2.5 times as long as wide.

Carex frankii (which is rare in NY) is also somewhat similar to C. typhina. Carex frankii has the terminal spikes usually staminate although they can be gynecandrous, pistillate, or abortive. In addition, C. frankii has pistillate scales with long awns that are larger than the body of the perigynia (Ford & Reznicek 2002).
Cat-tail Sedge Images
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Images of Similar Species
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The Best Time to See
The plants start to go to fruit in late June and the fruits persist on the plants through at least mid October but toward the end of this season they are shedding heavily. Early on in this season the fruits are quite immature. So, surveys are most successful from mid-July till mid-September. Adjustments should be made depending on where in the state surveys are being conducted.
The time of year you would expect to find Cat-tail Sedge fruiting (green shading) in New York.