Carex pilulifera

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Carex pilulifera
Pill Sedge
Carex pilulifera.jpeg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Poales
Family: Cyperaceae
Genus: Carex
Subgenus: C. subg. Carex
Section: C. sect. Acrocystis
Species: C. pilulifera
Binomial name
Carex pilulifera
L.
Synonyms [1]

Carex oederi Retz.

Carex pilulifera, the Pill Sedge,[2] is a European species of sedge found in acid heaths, woods and grassland from Macaronesia to Scandinavia. It grows up to 30 cm (12 in) tall, with 2–4 female spikes and 1 male spike in an inflorescence. These stalks bend as the seeds ripen, and the seeds are collected and dispersed by ants of the species Myrmica ruginodis.

Description[edit]

The culms of Carex pilulifera grow to a length of 8–30 centimetres (3–12 in), and are often noticeably curved.[3] The leaves are 5–20 cm (2–8 in) long and 1.5–2.0 millimetres (0.06–0.08 in) wide, and are fairly flat.[3] The rhizomes of C. pilulifera are very short, giving the plant a caespitose (densely tufted) appearance.[3] The tussock grows outwards through the production of annual side-shoots.[4]

The inflorescence comprises a single, terminal, male (staminate) spike, and 2–4 lateral female (pistillate) spikes.[3] The spikes are clustered together, and the whole inflorescence is 1–4 cm (0.4–1.6 in) long.[3] The female spikes are 4–8 mm (0.16–0.31 in) long, ovoid or approaching spherical,[3] and contains 5–15 flowers.[4] The female spikes are attached directly to the stem, and each is subtended by a bract which does not form a sheath.[3] The male spike is 8–15 mm (0.3–0.6 in) long and much narrower.[3]

Distribution and ecology[edit]

Carex pilulifera has a wide distribution in Europe, extending from Macaronesia and the Balkan Peninsula to Scandinavia.[1] It grows on acidic substrates including heathland, grassland and woodland.[4] It typically inhabits soils with a pH of 4.5–6.0.[3]

As the seeds of C. pilulifera ripen, the culms bend, and can eventually touch the ground.[4] The seeds are then dispersed by ants, particularly Myrmica ruginodis,[4] in a process known as myrmecochory, and are eaten by other insects, such as the ground beetle Harpalus fuliginosus.[4]

Taxonomic history[edit]

Carex pilulifera was described by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753 work Species Plantarum, which marks the starting point of botanical nomenclature.[1] The specific epithet pilulifera means "bearing small globular structures", in reference to the female spikes.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c A. O. Chater (2010). "Carex". In T. G. Tutin, V. H. Heywood, N. A. Burges, D. A. Webb & I. B. K. Richardson. Alismataceae to Orchidaceae. Flora Europaea 5. Cambridge University Press. pp. 290–323. ISBN 978-0-521-15370-6. 
  2. ^ "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i A. C. Jermy, D. A. Simpson, M. J. Y. Foley & M. S. Porter (2007). "Carex pilulifera L.". Sedges of the British Isles. BSBI Handbook No. 1 (3rd ed.). Botanical Society of the British Isles. pp. 431–433. ISBN 978-0-901158-35-2. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Gösta Kjellsson (1985). "Seed fate in a population of Carex pilulifera L. I. Seed dispersal and ant-seed mutualism". Oecologia 67 (3): 416–423. doi:10.1007/BF00384949. JSTOR 4217752. 
  5. ^ "Pillerstarr, Carex pilulifera L.". Den virtuella floran (in Swedish). Naturhistoriska riksmuseet. July 28, 2010. Retrieved July 25, 2011. 

External links[edit]