Carex alligata

leaf Main Plant Information





Common Names

  • Hawaiʻi sedge


  • Carex cristacea
  • Carex pluvia
  • Carex sandwicensis

leaf Plant Characteristics

Distribution Status


Endangered Species Status

No Status

Plant Form / Growth Habit

  • Non-Woody, Clumping

Mature Size, Height (in feet)

  • Grass-like, Tall, Greater than or equal to 2.5

Mature Size, Width

1 to 3 feet.

Life Span

Short lived (Less than 5 years)

Landscape Uses

  • Accent
  • Container
  • Erosion Control
  • Ground Cover

Additional Landscape Use Information

Carex of several species have been used as ornamental additions in landscapes on the mainland for the interesting, sometimes colorful, foliage and seedheads. A few species are now in cultivation in Hawaiʻi.

Similar use in landscape as Oʻahu sedge (Carex wahuensis), except that Hawaiʻi sedge likes more water and grows to 3 feet. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

Plant Produces Flowers


leaf Flower Characteristics

Flower Type

Not Showy

leaf Leaf Characteristics

Plant texture

  • Coarse

Additional Plant Texture Information

Leaves are 2 to 3 feet long

Leaf Colors

  • Dark Green
  • Light Green
  • Medium Green

leaf Pests and Diseases

leaf Growth Requirements

Water Requirements

  • Wet

Light Conditions

  • Full sun
  • Partial sun


Best to divide and replant Hawaiʻi sedge as necessary after 2 to 3 years. [Ethan Romanchak, Native Nursery, LLC]

leaf Environmental Information

Natural Range

  • Kauaʻi
  • Oʻahu
  • Molokaʻi
  • Maui
  • Hawaiʻi

Natural Zones (Elevation in feet, Rainfall in inches)

  • 2000 to 2999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 3000 to 3999, Greater than 100 (Wet)
  • 4000 to 4999, Greater than 100 (Wet)

Additional Habitat Information

Hawaiʻi sedge can be found growing in wet forests, along stream banks, and other wet sites in its native habitat.

leaf Special Features and Information

General Information

There are about 2,000 species of Carex worldwide, more than any other genus in the Sedge family or Cyperaceae. Half of the eight species of Carex native to the Hawaiian islands are endemic or naturally found nowhere else.


The generic name Carex is the classical Latin name for sedge, pehaps from carere, to be absent, as the upper spikes are staminate (male) and do not produce seeds.

The meaning of the specific epithet alligata is obscure. (alligator? software? person's name?)

Early Hawaiian Use

None of the eight native species appear to have any known Hawaiian names. Certainly the people knew these of interesting sedges and perhaps had uses for them.

leafMore Links

Plant Gallery

View Photo Gallery

Back to Plant List

Plant List

Other Nursery Profiles for Carex alligata