Carex appropinquata

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaCyperaceaeCarexCarex appropinquata


A tussock-forming perennial herb, mainly occurring in open fenland but also in Salix-carr where, however, its numbers may sometimes be reduced by shading and drying out. Generally lowland, but reaches 380 m at Malham Tarn (Mid-W. Yorks.).



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Boreo-temperate element, with a continental distribution in W. Europe.

Broad Habitats

Fen, marsh and swamp (not wooded)

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 9

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.5

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.5

Annual Precipitation (mm): 752

Height (cm): 80

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Tussock-forming graminoid, may slowly spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 38

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 13

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0

Atlas Change Index: -0.17

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Carex appropinquata Schum.

Fibrous tussock-sedge

Status: scarce


C. appropinquata is a plant of lowland herbaceous fen. When C. appropinquata grows in the same site as C. paniculata it is often found in slightly drier places, but it is the first of the two to disappear when the water level falls. It can be found in fen care, where it may be a relic of a time when conditions were more open. It is predominantly a lowland plant, but is found up to 380 metres at Malham Tarn.

C. appropinquata is a tufted perennial. Its method of reproduction is by seed, which is abundantly produced.

It is now extinct in its southernmost station in Britain on the Middlesex-Hertfordshire-Buckinghamshire borders. In East Anglia it has recently suffered much from invasion by scrub and Phragmites australis following drought, excessive water extraction and lack of management. Some colonies (e.g. that at Wicken Fen) consist of large tussocks and there has been no regeneration in recent years. However, it is locally abundant in Broadland and very locally abundant in Yorkshire. In the last twenty years it has been found in several new sites in the Scottish Borders. Reports from Wales were errors (S.B. Evans 1989). The species must be regarded as very vulnerable outside its Broadland strongholds because of the small number of sites to which it is now restricted.

It is widespread in central and eastern Europe, extending north to northern Scandinavia and eastward to Siberia.

European studies, particularly in Czechoslovakia, have seemed to show that it requires more acid conditions than its congener C. paniculata, but the fact that its largest congregations in Britain and Ireland are in calcareous fens in East Anglia and County Westmeath suggest that the opposite is true in western Europe.


R. W. David

Atlas text references

Atlas (365c)
Corner RWM
1969.  Plant Notes: Carex appropinquata Schumach. – in Scotland. Proceedings of the Botanical Society of the British Isles. 7:562.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Jermy AC, Chater AO, David RW
1982.  Sedges of the British Isles. Botanical Society of the British Isles Handbook no. 1, edn 2.
Stewart A, Pearman DA, Preston CD
1994.  Scarce plants in Britain.