14. Carex abscondita Mack.
Pl. 32 e–h; Map 127
Plants with short- to long-creeping
rhizomes, mostly forming loose tufts or clumps. Vegetative stems with the
leaves somewhat wider than those of the flowering stems. Flowering stems 5–25
cm long, weak, erect to more commonly spreading, white to light brown at the
base. Leaves longer than the stems. Leaf blades 10–30 cm long (except on
bladeless, basal sheaths), 2–9 mm wide, thin, dark green to pale green,
sometimes glaucous, the margins and veins minutely roughened or toothed, flat.
Leaf sheaths with the tip deeply concave, the lowermost sheath bases white to
light brown. Spikes 2–5 per stem, the bracts leaflike, mostly much longer than
the inflorescence. Staminate spike 4–12 mm long, sessile or with a stalk less
than 2 mm long, often hidden by the uppermost 1–2 bracts of the pistillate
spikes. Pistillate spikes 6–12 mm long, 2.5–3.5 mm wide, often partially hidden
by the bracts and leaves, the uppermost sessile or nearly so, ascending, the
lowermost long-stalked, ascending to spreading, with 3–9 perigynia, the lowermost
scales all with perigynia. Staminate scales 1–3 mm long, yellowish white to
white, with a green midrib, rarely with reddish dots. Pistillate scales 1.5–2.0
mm long, obovate, the tip sharply pointed, yellowish white to white, with a
green midrib. Perigynia 2.8–4.2 mm long, elliptic-obovate in outline, with a
very short, straight or slightly bent beak at the tip. Fruits 2.6–3.8 mm long.
Known only from the Mississippi Lowlands
Division in Dunklin and Ripley Counties (southeastern U.S. north to Missouri, Indiana, and Virginia; north locally along the Atlantic Coastal Plain to Massachusetts). Low, sandy rises in swamps and bottomland forests.
This species is easily overlooked in the
field because the inflorescences are often hidden among the leaves. Because it
can produce a well-developed rhizome system, it is sometimes found as
relatively large colonies of loose tufts.