Carex specuicola NatureServe Explorer Species Reports — NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.
ITIS Reports — Carex specuicola ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.
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Carex specuicola is a rare species of sedge known by the common name Navajo sedge. It is native to a small section of the Colorado Plateau in the United States, its distribution straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, and completely within the Navajo Nation. There are several populations but they are limited to a specific type of habitat. The plants grow from the sides of steep, often vertical cliffs of red Navajo Sandstone, in areas where water trickles from the rock. It occurs at elevations between 5,700 and 6,000 feet (1,700 and 1,800 m), usually in shady spots. Though it is not a grass, the sedge grows in inconspicuous clumps resembling tufts of grass sticking out of the rock face. When the sedge was federally listed as a threatened species in 1985, it was known from only three populations in Coconino County, Arizona, with no more than 700 plants existing.The species has since been observed in northeastern Arizona and San Juan County, Utah.
The Navajo people who have long inhabited this region say this plant was once widespread. They call it “yellow hay” and “food for the animals”. Grazing and trampling by livestock such as goats are still some of the main threats listed for the rare plant. The plant depends on water seeping through the rock cliffs for its survival; any alteration to the local hydrology that affects this will affect the plant