Sunday, 28 March 2010

PLANT: A rare hybrid sedge in north Lancashire

July 3, 2008:
In June, a sharp-eyed botanist found a sedge (Carex sp.) of unusual appearance which he thought might be the hybrid Carex pseudocyperus × C. rostrata (C. ×justi-schmidtii nom. nud.) at a wetland site in north Lancashire. Having just completed an account of British hybrid Carex for ‘Sedges of the British Isles’, Mike Porter and I decided to take a look.

There were two plants growing close together in fen vegetation on the drier, inner side of a dense belt of Phragmites surrounding a small sheet of water. Carex pseudocyperus, a potential parent and a fairly distinctive species, grew close by but C. rostrata, locally common in the area, wasn’t seen.

The two plants, which we now confirmed as the hybrid C. ×justi-schmidtii, were superficially closest to C. pseudocyperus but could be distinguished from both parents in having stomata (small white pores) present on both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves. They also possessed longer, narrower, usually less dense and somewhat more erect, female spikes compared to C. pseudocyperus.

This hybrid is very rare in the British Isles and had been previously recorded only from one site in Norfolk and from two in Ireland.

The hybrid (both photos above)

Carex pseudocyperus (both photos above)

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