Carex punctata

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaCyperaceaeCarexCarex punctata


A perennial herb of sheltered rock ledges and clefts on sea-cliffs, invariably in seepage zones where freshwater trickles down the cliff-face. It is also found on wet sandy patches in saltmarshes, and amongst rocks or on sand where streams debouch onto the shore. It occurs in similar habitats to C. distans, and may sometimes be mistaken for it. Lowland.



World Distribution

Suboceanic Southern-temperate element.

© K.J. Walker, BSBI

Broad Habitats

Supralittoral rock (does not include maritime grassland)

Light (Ellenberg): 9

Moisture (Ellenberg): 7

Reaction (Ellenberg): 7

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 3

Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 3

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 5.3

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15.4

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1125

Height (cm): 72

Perennation - primary


Life Form - primary




Clonality - primary

Tussock-forming graminoid, may slowly spread

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 56

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 42

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 7

Atlas Change Index: 0.15

JNCC Designations


Scarce Atlas Account

Scarce Atlas Account: 

Carex punctata Gaudin

Dotted sedge

Status: scarce


This coastal sedge needs shelter and abundant fresh water. It is therefore usually found in nooks of sea cliffs where a trickle of water descends, on wet sandy patches in saltmarshes or where a stream enters a beach, rather than on rocks exposed to wind and salt spray. It also occurs in dune-slacks, and in estuarine alder-carr. 

C. punctata is a perennial; individual plants are short-­lived but they set abundant seed. The species is rather mobile: populations tend to appear and disappear or to shift their ground.

The distribution of this sedge in Britain has been masked by confusion with its close ally C. distans. Here it is a purely coastal plant, being favoured by the milder climates of the south and west. Colonies are scattered and usually small. It is liable to be destroyed by tourist developments such as car-parks and seaside bungalows.

C. punctata occurs at intervals all along the Mediterranean coast from Greece to southern Spain and up the Atlantic coast and the English Channel to southern Scandinavia. It is abundant in south-west Ireland. It is also found sporadically as a mountain plant in the Alps and elsewhere. Isolated populations are known in Asia Minor and Algeria, and a variety is found in the Azores.

For a detailed account of its British distribution, see David (1981b).


R. W. David

Atlas text references

Atlas (354b)
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.