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Rhynchospora capitellata

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CyperaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual, perennial herb, often rhizomed or stoloned, often of wet open places; roots fibrous; monoecious, dioecious, or flowers bisexual. Stem: generally 3-sided, generally solid. Leaf: generally 3-ranked; base sheathing, sheath generally closed, ligule generally 0; blade (0 or) linear, parallel-veined. Inflorescence: spikelets generally arranged in head-, spike-, raceme-, or panicle-like inflorescences; flower generally sessile in axil of flower bract, enclosed in a sac-like structure (perigynium) or generally not. Flower: unisexual or bisexual, small, generally wind-pollinated; perianth 0 or generally bristle like; stamens generally 3, anthers attached at base, 4 chambered; ovary superior, chamber 1, ovule 1, style 2--3-branched. Fruit: achene, 2--3 sided.
Genera In Family: +- 100 genera, 5000 species: especially temperate. Note: Difficult; taxa differ in technical characters of inflorescence, fruit. In Carex and Kobresia, what appear to be individual pistillate flowers in fact are highly reduced inflorescences (whether or not the same applies to staminate flowers is still under debate). In some other works (e.g., FNANM) these are called spikelets, and they are treated as being arranged in spikes. Here and in TJM (1993), what appear to be individual pistillate flowers are called pistillate flowers in Carex (and they are treated as being arranged in spikelets), but spikelets in Kobresia (and they are treated as being arranged into spikes). Though internally inconsistent, the approach here is consistent with traditional usage, and reflects a preference for character states that may be determined in the field. Molecular, morphological, and embryological evidence indicates that Eriophorum crinigerum is to be segregated to a new genus, as Calliscirpus criniger (A. Gray) C.N. Gilmour et al., along with a second, newly described species, Calliscirpus brachythrix C.N. Gilmour et al. (Gilmour et al. 2013); key to genera modified by Peter W. Ball to include Calliscirpus.
eFlora Treatment Author: S. Galen Smith, except as noted
Scientific Editor: S. Galen Smith, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: RhynchosporaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: BEAKED-RUSH
Habit: Perennial herb [annual] 5--100(150) cm; rhizomes generally 0. Stem: generally 3-angled, <= 2 mm diam, glabrous, margin often minute-scabrous. Leaf: few to many, basal and cauline, spiraled; blade > sheath, 0.5--3 mm wide, proximally flat, midrib abaxially keeled or not, margin generally, midrib occasionally scabrous; sheath permanently tubular (not splitting), glabrous; ligule present or 0. Inflorescence: generally several, terminal and axillary, branched [head]; spikelets several to many, cylindric, 3.5--5.5 mm, on short stalks with spikelet bracts; flower bracts +- 5, spiraled [2-ranked], each with 1 flower in axil or proximal 1 or more smaller, with 0 flower, and intergrading with spikelet bracts, 1.7--3.5(4) mm, ovate, membranous, glabrous, generally mucronate or short-awned. Flower: bisexual or occasionally distal-most staminate; perianth bristles 2--12[20], to +- exceeding tubercle, barbed, persistent on fruit [not]; style 2[3]-branched, base much enlarged, persistent on fruit as a prominent tubercle. Fruit: 2-sided [+- cylindric], body (except tubercle) obovate to pear-shaped, smooth or winkled [variously sculptured otherwise], brown.
Species In Genus: > 250 species: especially tropics. Etymology: (Greek: snout seed) Note: Kral's (2002) statement that Rhynchospora kunthii Kunth, Rhynchospora recognita (Gale) Kral (treated here as a synonym of Rhynchospora globularis) are both in California is evidently undocumented.

Rhynchospora capitellata (Michx.) Vahl
Stem: angles 3, blunt, minute-scabrous near inflorescence. Leaf: blade <= 3 mm wide, margin distally minute-scabrous. Inflorescence: spikelets 3.5--4(5) mm, brown to dark-brown, lance-elliptic; flower bracts 2.7--3 mm. Flower: perianth bristles 5--7, +- reaching tubercle tip, barbs reflexed. Fruit: (2)2.5--3 mm including tubercle, smooth, base narrow-stalk-like, tubercle 1--1.5 mm.
Ecology: Wet meadows, fens, seeps, marshes; Elevation: < 2000 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR (Trinity Co.), NCoRO (Sonoma Co.), n&c SN; Distribution Outside California: eastern North America. Flowering Time: Jul--Aug
Synonyms: Rhynchospora glomerata (L.) Vahl var. capitellata (Michx.) Kük.; Rhynchospora glomerata var. minor Britton
Unabridged Note: Kral (2002) erroneously states "perianth absent".
eFlora Treatment Author: S. Galen Smith
Jepson Online Interchange
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

Previous taxon: Rhynchospora californica
Next taxon: Rhynchospora globularis

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Citation for this treatment: S. Galen Smith 2017. Rhynchospora capitellata, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 19, 2017.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2017. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 19, 2017.

Rhynchospora capitellata
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© 2004 Steve Matson
Rhynchospora capitellata
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson
Rhynchospora capitellata
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson
Rhynchospora capitellata
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson
Rhynchospora capitellata
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson
Rhynchospora capitellata
click for enlargement
© 2004 Steve Matson

More photos of Rhynchospora capitellata in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Rhynchospora capitellata:
KR (Trinity Co.), NCoRO (Sonoma Co.), n&c SN;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.