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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Cyperus erythrorhizos Muhl.)

Red-root flatsedge

SEDGE FAMILY (Cyperaceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: Annual, cespitose from fibrous blood-red roots. Stems are 1-7 dm. tall, smooth and bluntly triangular. Leaves are 2-10 mm. wide with scabrous margins. Inflorescence is a compound umbel with one to several spikes with numerous crowded spikelets 8- to 30-flowered and very narrow. Small wings along the rachilla are deciduous. Scales are 1. 1 -1.6 mm. long and reddish brown with a green keel. Nutlets three-sided, ovoid, 0.7-0.8 mm. long, and gray, ivory or white in color.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Red-root flatsedge occurs on mudflats, riverbanks, borders of marshes and sandy or muddy shores. The specimen shown by the photograph was collected from a recently excavated, sandy, wetland creation site.

In general, members of the genus Cyperus have spikelets with scales in two ranks so that they are flattened, hence one common name of "flatsedge." Unlike some other members of the sedge family, the nutlets of Cyperus species lack a beak and are not subtended by bristles. There are approximately 14 species of Cyperus found in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some species (e.g., C. esculentus) may become a nuisance to agriculture. However, the nutlets and tubers can provide good wildlife food.

SOURCE: Great Plains Flora Association (1991); Voss (1972); Fassett (1957); and Gleason and Cronquist (1991).

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