[Picture of <em>Carex subbracteata</em>]

Carex harfordii-subbracteata (June 2008)

This summer Peter Zika collected Carex harfordii on San Juan Island in Puget Sound, northwest Washington. This species has been considered a California endemic, but a few years ago Peter collected it on the Oregon coast. Andrew Hipp of the Morton Arboretum in Illinois sequenced some DNA from Zika’s specimens and found that they match C. subbracteata better than they match C. harfordii. Zika reexamined his specimens, and agrees with that identification. He now suspects that his Oregon specimen of C. harfordii may also be C. subbracteata.

These two species plus C. gracilior comprise a difficult complex (unusually difficult even for Ovales!) of closely related taxa that until recently were considered California endemics. Tony Reznicek has been saying for some time that they need further taxonomic study. Zika’s recent finds underline that need.