A tussock-forming perennial herb of oligotrophic or mesotrophic (sometimes eutrophic) marshy habitats, often calcareous, including fens, the margins of lakes, ponds, rivers and canals, ditches prone to seasonal flooding, and wet Alnus or Salix woodland. Lowland.
C. elata is now much better recorded than for the 1962 Atlas, especially in Ireland. There have been losses, particularly in East Anglia, from drainage and ditch widening.
Eurasian Temperate element.
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Light (Ellenberg): 7
Moisture (Ellenberg): 10
Reaction (Ellenberg): 7
Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 5
Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0
January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.8
July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.2
Annual Precipitation (mm): 903
Height (cm): 95
Perennation - primary
Life Form - primary
Life Form - secondary
Clonality - primary
Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 294
Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 225
Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 0
Atlas Change Index: -0.32
Scarce Atlas Account
Carex elata All.
Status: not scarce
This is a plant of ditches, lake- and river-sides and reed-swamps, in eutrophic conditions. It often forms extensive stands, and usually in places subject to seasonal flooding. In East Anglian reedswamps its common associates are C. acutiformis, C. riparia, Cladium mariscus and Phragmites australis.
Being a tussock-forming plant without leading rhizomes, reproduction is presumably entirely by seed. Like other members of this group of sedges it often fails to flower or set seed if water levels or other habitat factors are not right.
This perennial species has suffered from wetland drainage, and some sites are probably still vulnerable to drainage and to widening and deepening of ditches. However, many sites for C. elata are of great conservation interest and are nature reserves or designated as SSSIs and current populations seem stable.
C. elata is widespread in Europe although absent from the arctic and much of the boreal zone and very are in the Mediterranean region. It is scattered across Asia to Manchuria. Eastern populations have been distinguished as subsp. omskiana (Meinsh.) Jalas.
Because of confusion with tussock forms of C. nigra and with partially fertile hybrids with this and other members of the section Phacocystis, the exact distribution of the species requires further investigation.
R. W. David
Atlas text references
1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
1982. Sedges of the British Isles. Botanical Society of the British Isles Handbook no. 1, edn 2.
1965. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
1997. Aquatic plants in Britain and Ireland.
1994. Scarce plants in Britain.