This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
A smaller plant, 6-12 inches high, with fewer and smaller spike-lets of a rusty brown colour, whose bracts are shorter and barely the length of the whole spike. Leaves much shorter than the stem, very fine and pointed.
Marshes and mountain bogs, usually in colonies. May, June.
Switzerland, France, Central and Northern Europe.
Several spikelets in one or more clusters, forming axillary or terminal heads. Spikelets oblong, pointed. Glumes imbricated round the axis, the lower and shorter ones without any flower. Stamens 3 or rarely 2. Bristles 6 or more, shorter than the glumes. Nut globular or flattened, tapering into a bifid style.
A large genus spread over most of the globe, but with few European species.
Stems 6-12 inches high, slender, in tufts. Leaves chiefly radical, short, and subulate. Bracts barely longer than the flowers. Spikelets nearly white, in a small terminal cluster, often with 1 or 2 smaller clusters on fine peduncles in the axils of the stem-leaves. Spikelets with 1 or 2 flowers and several empty glumes below. Bristles about 12.
In colonies in bogs in the plains and mountains. July, August.
Europe, except Mediterranean, Western Asia, N. America. British.
Rootstock elongate. Spikelets dark brown. Bristles 5 or 6, barbed upwards, twice as long as the obovoid fruit. Very like the last species except in colour.
Bogs and marshes; rare. May to October.
Switzerland, France, England, Ireland; Western, Central, and Northern Europe. N.E. America.
Monoecious, rarely dioecious herbs, with Grass-like leaves, chiefly radical or on the lower part of the stem; mostly perennial. Spikelets solitary or several in a terminal spike, or the lower ones distant, or sometimes forming a short compound spike or panicle. Glumes imbricate. Male flowers with 3 or rarely 2 stamens, but without perianth-bristles. Female flowers enclosed in an inflated sack or utricle, contracted at the top, from which projects a style with either 2 or 3 stigmas. Fruit a compressed or trigonous nut enclosed in the perigynium.
A very large genus of about 800 species, spread widely over Europe, Northern Asia, and North America, extending into the mountain ranges of the tropics, and reappearing in the temperate regions of the southern hemisphere. Many species, and most of the large ones, grow in wet places.
In order to correctly determine many kinds, it is necessary to have specimens with more or less ripe fruit.
In the European Alps about 20 species reach the upper limit of Alpine pastures, or about 8000 feet; and at least another score are found between 5000 and 7000 feet. At Mont Cenis alone the author collected 33 species of Carex from above 6000 feet in July and August, 1907.l It is probable that in the whole of Switzerland so large a number could not be found at that height; though Switzerland yields about 88 species and sub-species, or a few more than are found in the British Isles.
In the present work it is only possible to give brief descriptions of some of the most characteristic species commonly found in sub-alpine regions.