Found a few of these small plants flowering on some local chalk/limescale hollows near Stamford yesterday.
I really should know them, but can't pull it out of my mental filing system !
An ID would be much appreciated.
It is a sedge, Carex.
It looks to me superficially like C. humilis (dwarf sedge), but Stamford is not in its recorded range (see http://www.brc.ac.uk/plantatlas/index.php?q=node/763).
Carex is a confusing genus. The BSBI's Plant Crib starts its section on Carex by stating "the BSBI Handbook Sedges of the British Isles is essential", "Most species show great variation in vegetative characters, and fruiting material is often essential for identification.", and then handles the genus as 15 groups of (more) species. As it happens, C. humilis is not one of those.
Anyway, I suggest you do either/both:
- Go to this BSBI ID page, enter 'Carex' in the first box, then work through the subsequent questions. You will have to look at the plant in the field again to get some of the answers.
- Follow the key in Carex section of the Plant Crib
Please post here to let us know what decision you come to.
Thanks Mike - really helpful.
Of course it's a sedge - now you say it :)
I've been back out for another look, and there are now quite a number over a 4-5 sq meter area, but can't see any others outside that.
I've done the key as best I can (awns, ligules and auricles are not my strong point!), and the result was -
Frequent - spring sedge (Carex caryophyllea)
Scarce - downy-fruited sedge (C. filiformis)
Similar (scarce) - dwarf sedge (C. humilis)
Filiformis doesn't look right.
Caryophyllea could be right (and it is certainly around here) but just looks to big to me.
All my specimens are very low growing.
So - it could still be the dwarf as suggested.
What do I do now?
Should an expert come for a look as it seems so far north of its usual range, or could maybe advise me on a definitive ID?
Well done for getting a pretty short short-list.
The man to speak with is Arthur Chater, the BSBI's referee for these Carex species.
The services of BSBI referees (such as myself, for Viola) are normally available only to BSBI members.
But maybe if we ask nicely he'll make an exception for you...
For his contact details, email me.
Following expert advice from Arthur Chater (thanks Mike) it appears that this is most likely the Spring Sedge (C. caryophyllea). Apparently it can be quite short in dry meadows - such as this one.
So not the unusual sighting it may have been, but I've learned a lot about sedges in the process!