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Carex gigantea Rudge
South Florida Status: Critically imperiled. Three occurrences in three conservation areas (Big Cypress National Preserve; Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park; Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve).
Taxonomy: Monocotyledon; Cyperaceae.
Habit: Perennial terrestrial herb.
Distribution: Native to the eastern United States. Wunderlin (1998) reports it as frequent nearly throughout Florida.
South Florida Distribution: Collier, Lee, and Miami-Dade counties, and the Monroe County mainland.
South Florida Habitats: Cypress domes and strand swamps.
Protection Status: Not listed by any agency.
Aids to Identification: Tobe et al. (1998) has an illustration and a color photo.
References: Chapman, 1883; Godfrey & Wooten, 1979; Tobe et al., 1998; Wunderlin, 1998.
Historical Context: Paul C. Standley first collected giant sedge in 1916 near Fort Myers (3008, US). He made another collection there in 1927 (52549, NY). These were the only known records for the species in Lee County until 1997, when Bradley and Woodmansee observed it at the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve near Fort Myers. This station needs to be vouchered.
In 1917, John Kunkel Small made a collection in the Okaloacoochee Slough (8318, NY). It is unknown where Small actually made this collection. Portions of this slough are found in both Collier and Hendry counties, within Big Cypress National Preserve, the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest, Okaloacoochee Slough Wildlife Management Area, and on private lands. George N. Avery (1976) also reported giant sedge from the Devil's Garden area of Hendry County.
A number of collections have been made in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. The first collection was made by Frank C. Craighead in 1966 (s.n., FTG). Other collections were made in 1966 by Olga Lakela (30006, USF), in 1967 by Lakela (30744, USF), in 1975 by Steven R. Hill (2745, FTG), and in 1985 by Ruben P. Sauleda (8779, USF). It is presumably extant there.
Giant sedge also has been collected in a number of localities in and around Big Cypress National Preserve. The first collection was from the Pinecrest area by C.R. Jackson in 1949 (s.n., FTG). It was vouchered in the same general area by David and Sally Black in 1978 (177, FTG). Robert W. Long collected it in 1966 in Gator Hook Strand (1692, USF), which is located to the west of Pinecrest and south of Monroe Station, and P. Silverstone made a collection in the vicinity of Monroe Station in 1964 (96, FTG). Another collection was made in the Kissimmee Billy Strand area by Donovan S. and Helen B. Correll in 1976 (47126, FTG). Black & Black (1980) reported giant sedge as uncommon in Big Cypress National Preserve.
A single collection was made in Miami-Dade County in 1965 by R. Metzger (188, USF). The collection was made in a disturbed area, and may not represent a native population.
Major Threats: Exotic pest plant invasions; hydrological modifications; recreational off-road vehicle use in Big Cypress National Preserve; wild hog damage.
Comments: Because of the difficulty in identifying Carex species, other stations may remain unreported.
Recommendations: • Voucher plants at Six Mile Cypress. • Survey Okaloacoochee Slough in Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest, Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest, and the Devil’s Garden area in Hendry County. • Map and monitor known stations on a regular basis.
Gann, G.D., K.A. Bradley and S.W. Woodmansee. 2001-2013.