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Vascular Plants of California
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Schoenus nigricans

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(4)-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: SchoenusView Description 

Habit: Perennial herb [annual], cespitose. Leaf: basal [and cauline]; ligule present [0]. Inflorescence: terminal, head-like [not]; inflorescence bract leaf-like; spikelets flat; flower bracts 2-ranked, proximal >=2 sterile. Flower: bisexual or distal-most staminate; perianth bristles [0]3--6; style 3-branched. Fruit: 3-sided; tubercle 0.
Species In Genus: +- 100 species: worldwide, especially Australia. Etymology: (Greek: rush-like pl)
eFlora Treatment Author: Gordon C. Tucker
Schoenus nigricans L.
Habit: Plant 2--7 dm, erect, wiry, glabrous; rhizome caudex-like. Stem: <= 1 mm diam, cylindric, stiff, center spongy with air cavities. Leaf: > 1/2 stem; blade +- 1 mm wide, 3-angled, entire minute-serrate; sheath +- black, splitting adaxially; ligule +- 0.3 mm, dark brown. Flower: perianth bristles generally < fruit, smooth or scabrous, deciduous. Fruit: 1--1.5 mm, ovoid-ellipsoid, +- white. Chromosomes: 2n=44,54.
Ecology: Marshes, swamps, springs, generally alkaline soils; Elevation: < 1500 m. Bioregional Distribution: SnGb, SnBr, DMoj; Distribution Outside California: Florida, Texas, to Mexico, Caribbean, Old World. Flowering Time: Aug--Sep Note: Used as roof thatch in Ireland.
Jepson eFlora Author: Gordon C. Tucker
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Botanical illustration including Schoenus nigricans

botanical illustration including Schoenus nigricans


Citation for this treatment: Gordon C. Tucker 2012, Schoenus nigricans, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=43586, accessed on September 30, 2020.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2020, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 30, 2020.

Schoenus nigricans
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© 2010 James M. Andre
Schoenus nigricans
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© 2014 Dana York
Schoenus nigricans
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© 2002 Gary A. Monroe
Schoenus nigricans
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© 2010 James M. Andre
Schoenus nigricans
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© 2004 Steve Matson
Schoenus nigricans
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© 2010 James M. Andre

More photos of Schoenus nigricans in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Schoenus nigricans:
SnGb, SnBr, DMoj
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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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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).