Carex physodes (Gintzburger et al., 2003)

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Carex pachystylis
Gintzburger et al., Rangelands in Uzbekistan, 2003
Carex physodes (Gintzburger et al., 2003)
Scabiosa olivieri
Carex physodes
Carex physodes
Carex physodes

Carex physodes M. B.

Local name:

  • Russian: Осочка песчаная - osočka pesčanaja
  • Uzbek: Ilak, Rang
  • Turkmen: Ilak

Chromosome number: 2n = 16, 40, 54 (Fedorov 1969).

Description and morphology: Perennial ephemeroid plant (height 15–20 cm), grass-like with short growth period, sometimes beginning in late autumn-winter. Main root system extends to depth 60 cm, superficial adventitious roots to depth 15–30 cm; roots create thick superficial brown mat on dunes. Plants spread rapidly by vigorous rhizomes. Stem: 3-angled, glabrous. Leaves: smaller than stem and rolled. Inflorescence: compound spike (3 or 5), assembled in oblong compact head.

Reproduction: Mainly vegetative (rhizomes) and also sexual. Anemophilous and entomophilous. Possible allopathic characteristics. Flowering: March. Fruit maturation: April–May. Fruit: brown papery bag at end of stalk. Characteristic difference of ‘ilak’ from C. pachystylis is the absence of inflated fruits. Fruit polymorphism observed. Seed: usually low level of seed production because of efficient vegetative multiplication.

Pastoral use: Excellent grazing in spring and summer seasons by all livestock. Excellent sand-fixing plants; quick colonizer of mobile sand. At the end of vegetation, keeps well on roots. In Karakalpakistan and Kyzylkum, ‘ilak’ is occasionally hand collected for hay for cattle and sheep. Yield on south Kyzylkum rangelands is about 0.01–0.2 t DM/ha. In these areas it is utilized, together with ‘kongur-bash’, for haymaking.

Fodder value: During flowering contains up to 19% crude protein and 25% cellulose. Similar fodder value, carotin and vitamin content as C. pachystylis.

Habitat: Psammophyte. A dominant component of sandy desert plant communities. Frequent even on loose sand dunes. Does not occur on saline and/or compacted sandy soil.

Distribution: South-western and Central Kyzylkum, all Middle Asia, lower part of Volga valley, Afghanistan, Central and western Iran.