Carex microptera
 
Small-Winged Sedge

Many Stems

Centre Block, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
12-July-2014

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Microptera: Answers to key questions in Sedges (Carex) of Saskatchewan, Fascicle 3, Flora of Saskatchewan by Anna Leighton leading to this species. The answers are in the order you would normally work through the key. 
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Stigmas 2; achenes lenticular; NOT [Stigmas 3; achenes three-sided, occasionally terete, though their shape may be concealed by flattened perigynia.]

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Spikes 2 or more per culm, terminal and lateral; spike bracts present on lateral spikes; lowest spike bracts usually evident, often conspicuous, even in compact heads composed of densely bunched and indistinguishable spikes (except in C. maritima, C. chordorrhiza and C. microptera); NOT [Spikes 1 per culm, terminal; spike bracts absent]

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Individual spikes distinguishable in an open inflorescence, or indistinguishable in a compact head; spikes in any one inflorescence alike in appearance due to their similar composition (i.e. all are gynecandrous, androgynous, pistillate or staminate), sessile.  NOT [Individual spikes distinguishable in an open inflorescence (densely bunched in C. bicolor); spikes in any one inflorescence either markedly different in appearance (with terminal spike staminate and lateral spikes pistillate), or subtly different in appearance (with terminal spike gynecandrous and lateral spikes pistillate), sessile or stalked.]

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Culms loosely to densely cespitose (occasionally mat-forming rather than in discrete clumps); rhizomes, if present, usually short with culms arising close together along them.  NOT [Culms single, or a few together, well-spaced along conspicuous rhizomes or stolons.]

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Spikes gynecandrous, (terminal spikes may be staminate in SK material of C. mackenziei; pistillate or staminate spikes occur in Sect. Stellulatae, a group distinguished by spongy tissue filling lower one-third to one-half of the perigynium); if heads have indistinguishable spikes, the heads are usually +/- as wide as they are long and usually widest in middle or toward base.  NOT [Spikes androgynous, (lateral spikes occasionally pistillate in C. prairea); if heads have indistinguishable spikes, the heads are usually oblong to elongate in shape.]

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Lower 3 or 4 spike bracts usually scale-like or bristle-like; if lowest is long and leaf-like, then it is shorter than half the culm length or it appears to be an extension of the culm to which inflorescence is attached laterally (as in C. athrostachya); perigynia various.  NOT [Lower 3 or 4 spike bracts long, pale-green and leaf-like; lowest bract 5-15 (20) cm long, usually half to fully as long as culm below inflorescence; perigynia 5 mm long or longer, narrowly lanceolate.]

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Perigynium margins flattened as a narrow or wide wing for all or part of perigynium length (wing reduced to raised thickened nerve along body in C. adusta); mature achene narrower than perigynium body; beak present (though may be ill-defined); neither perigynium base nor perigynium wall thickened with spongy tissue.  NOT [Perigynium distinctly wingless though margins may be thickened as rounded or raised nerves; mature achene filling width of perigynium body; perigynium base or wall thickened by spongy tissue or cells; beak present or absent.]

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Spike bracts usually shorter, or a bit longer than the inflorescence; if much longer then clearly positioned beneath spike and appearing lateral rather than extending culm-like beyond inflorescence.  NOT [Lowest spike bract distinctly longer than the inflorescence and appearing to be an extension of culm with inflorescence attached to one side rather than at tip.]

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Perigynia 5.2 mm long or less (occasionally to 6 mm); distance from tip of beak to top of achene 3 mm at most; inflorescence nodding or erect; species not confined to Cypress Hills.  NOT [Perigynia 6-8 mm long (occasionally as short as 5.5 mm); distance from tip of beak to top of achene 3.24.6 mm; inflorescence stiffly erect; Cypress Hills only.]

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Spikes distinguishable, or indistinguishable in a compact head; perigynia at most 3 times longer than wide (C. praticola occasionally narrower but then pistillate scales covering perigynia); other features variable.  NOT [Spikes distinguishable; perigynia usually 4 times longer than wide, 3-4 (4.7) mm long and seldom over 1 mm wide; scales distinctly shorter than perigynia; veins absent or faint on both surfaces of perigynia.]

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Perigynium body narrower, somewhat contracted or tapering into beak; scale width and perigynium color variable.  NOT [Perigynium body orbicular, abruptly contracted into beak, remaining green until turning tan at maturity; pistillate scales one-third to two-fifths as wide as perigynia.]

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Scales not resembling wax paper, color various; perigynia not yellow at base.  NOT [Scales scarious-translucent, resembling wax paper, whitish to yellowish with pale (never green) prominent midrib; perigynia yellow at base, faintly nerved.]

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Pistillate scales, at least those in the middle and upper part of spike, distinctly narrower and/or shorter than the mature perigynia, revealing margins and/or beak.  NOT [Pistillate scales throughout the spike similar in size and shape to the mature perigynia, and more or less concealing them.]

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Spikes indistinguishable in a dense head that is truncate and widest at base, and approximately as wide as it is long.  NOT [Spikes distinguishable in a compact to elongate inflorescence.]