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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

Cyperaceae - The Sedge Family


Mostly perennial, grasslike, rushlike or reedlike plants; stems trigonous or less often terete (or compressed), solid or pithy. Leaves in 3 vertical ranks or reduced mainly to sheathing at the base of the stem; leaf blades, when present, grasslike, elongate and parallel-veined, often strongly keeled; sheaths closed around the stem, sometimes splitting with age. Flowers much reduced, perfect or unisexual, each subtended by a bract (scale); perianth consisting of 1-many (often 6) small bristles or a single perianth scale, or the perianth lacking; stamens 3 or sometimes 1 or 2; ovary superior, 1-celled, 3-carpellary or less often 2-carpellary, sometimes contained in a saclike covering called the perigynium (Carex), ripening into an achene, the style trifid or bifid (stigmas 3 or 2), ovule 1, basally attached. Flowers and their subtending scales arranged in spikelets (termed spikes in Carex), the spikelets solitary as a single terminal or lateral spike, or the spikelets few to many and arranged in various types of inflorescences, the inflorescence often subtended by 1-several involucral bracts. A large family (third largest in our region) of which most members inhabit wet places.

Lead Characteristic Go To
1 Flowers unisexual; achene enclosed in a saclike perigynium which in turn is subtended by a scale. Genus Carex
1 Flowers perfect or mostly so; achene naked, merely subtended by a scale and the perianth (if present). Lead 2
2 Scales distichous in the spikelets. Lead 3
2 Scales spirally arranged and overlapping in the spikelets. Lead 4
3 Inflorescences terminal; achene not subtended by bristles. Genus Cyperus
3 Inflorescences axillary; achene subtended by bristles. Genus Dulichium
4 Style base persistent as a tubercle atop the achene, often swollen, differentiated in color and texture from the achene body, or if the style base appears confluent with and not differentiated from the achene body, then the spikelets solitary on leafless culms. Lead 5
4 Style base persistent as a small beak, confluent with the achene body and not differentiated from it, or the style base not persistent on the achene; spikelets usually few to many, or if solitary, then on leafy culms. Lead 7
5 Spikelets solitary on the culms; culms appearing leafless, the leaves reduced to basal sheathes. Genus Eleocharis
5 Spikelets 1-several, culms leafy at the base, the leaves with narrow blades. Lead 6
6 Fertile flowers or achenes usually only 1 or 2(-5) terminating each spikelet, most of the scales empty; achene lenticular, the tubercle prominent, beaklike, confluent with the achene body. Genus Rhynchospora
6 Fertile flowers or achenes few to several per spikelet, all or nearly all of the scales with flowers or achenes; achene trigonous, the tubercle minute, mammillate, distinct from the achene body. Genus Bulbostylus
7 Perianth of numerous, long, whitish or rufous bristles, greatly surpassing the scales and giving the spikelets a cotton tuft appearance. Genus Eriophorum
7 Perianth of 1-6 small bristles or scales, or the perianth lacking. Lead 8
8 Perianth of 1-6 small bristles or absent; plants mostly perennial. Lead 9
8 Perianth of 1 or 3 scales, sometimes absent; plants annual. Lead 10
9 Perianth absent; style base swollen above the attachment to the achene, readily deciduous. Genus Fimbristylis
9 Perianth of 1-6 bristles, rarely absent; style base not swollen, often partly persistent as a beak on the achene. Genus Scirpus
10 Perianth of 1 minute scale or sometimes absent; spikelets 5 mm or less long. Genus Hemicarpha
10 Perianth of 3 stalked scales; spikelets more than 5 mm long. Genus Fuirena


62. Cyperaceae, the Sedge Family
1. Bulbostylis Kunth.
1. Bulbostylis capillaris (L.) Clarke
2. Carex L. -- Sedge
1. Carex alopecoidea Tuckerm.
2. Carex aquatilis Wahl. -- Water sedge
3. Carex atherodes Spreng. -- Slough sedge
4. Carex athrostachya Olney
5. Carex aurea Nutt. -- Golden sedge
6. Carex bebbii Olney ex Fern.
7. Carex bicknellii Britt. -- Bicknell's sedge
8. Carex brevior (Dewey) Mack. ex Lunell -- Fescue sedge
9. Carex brunnescens (Pers.) Poir.
10. Carex buxbaumii Wahl.
11. Carex canescens L.
12. Carex capillaris L.
13. Carex chordorrhiza Ehrh. ex L.f.
14. Carex comosa F. Boott
15. Carex crawei Dewey
16. Carex cristatella Britt.
17. Carex diandra Schrank
18. Carex disperma Dewey
19. Carex emoryi Dewey
20. Carex garberi Fern.
21. Carex granularis Muhl. ex Willd. -- Meadow sedge
22. Carex gravida Bailey -- Heavy sedge
23. Carex gynocrates Wormskj. ex Drej.
24. Carex hallii Olney
25. Carex haydenii Dewey
26. Carex hookerana Dewey
27. Carex hyalinolepis Steud. -- Thinscale sedge
28. Carex hystericina Muhl. ex Willd. -- Bottlebrush sedge
29. Carex interior Bailey
30. Carex lacustris Willd.
31. Carex laeviconica Dewey -- Smoothcone sedge
32. Carex lanuginosa Michx. -- Woolly sedge
33. Carex lasiocarpa Ehrh.
34. Carex leptalea Wahl.
35. Carex limosa L.
36. Carex lupulina Willd. -- Hop sedge
37. Carex meadii Dewey -- Mead's sedge
38. Carex microptera Mack.
39. Carex nebraskensis Dewey -- Nebraska sedge
40. Carex praegracilis W. Boott -- Clustered field sedge
41. Carex prairea Dewey
42. Carex pseudo-cyperus L.
43. Carex retrorsa Schwein.
44. Carex rostrata Stokes ex With. -- Beaked sedge
45. Carex sartwellii Dewey
46. Carex scoparia Schkuhr ex Willd. -- Broom sedge
47. Carex simulata Mack.
48. Carex sterilis Willd.
49. Carex stipata Muhl. ex Willd. -- Saw-beak sedge
50. Carex stricta Lam.
51. Carex sychnocephala Carey
52. Carex tenera Dewey
53. Carex tetanica Schkuhr
54. Carex tribuloides Wahl.
55. Carex vesicaria L.
56. Carex viridula Michx.
57. Carex vulpinoidea Michx. -- Fox sedge
3. Cyperus L. -- Galingale, umbrella sedge
1. Cyperus acuminatus Torr. & Hook.
2. Cyperus aristatus Rottb. -- Awned cyperus
3. Cyperus bipartitus Torr. -- Shining cyperus, brook cyperus
4. Cyperus diandrus Torr. -- Low cyperus
5. Cyperus engelmannii Steud. -- Engelmann's cyperus
6. Cyperus erythrorhizos Muhl. -- Red-rooted cyperus
7. Cyperus esculentus L. -- Yellow nut-sedge, chufa
8. Cyperus odoratus L. -- Coarse cyperus
9. Cyperus strigosus L. -- Straw-colored cyperus
4. Dulichium Rich. ex Pers.
1. Dulichium arundinceum (L.) Britt. -- Three-way sedge
5. Elocharis R. Br. -- Spikesedge, spikerush
1. Eleocharis acicularis (L.) R. & S. -- Needle spikesedge
2. Eleocharis compressa Sulliv. -- Flatstem spikesedge
3. Eleocharis erythropoda Steud. -- Spikerush
4. Eleocharis macrostachya Britt. -- Spikerush
5. Eleocharis obtusa (Willd.) Schult. -- Blunt spikesedge
6. Eleocharis parvula (R. & S.) Link ex Buff. & Fingerh. -- Dwarf spikesedge
7. Eleocharis pauciflora (Lightf.) Link -- Few-flowered spikesedge
8. Eleocharis rostellata (Torr.) Torr.
9. Eleocharis smallii Britt. -- Spikerush
10. Eleocharis wolfii A. Gray -- Wolf's spikesedge
11. Eleocharis xyridiformis Fern. & Brackett -- Spikerush
6. Eriophorum L. -- Cottonsedge
1. Eriophorum chamissonis C. A. Mey. -- Chamisso cottonsedge
2. Eriophorum gracile Koch -- Slender cottonsedge
3. Eriophorum polystachion L. -- Narrowleaf cottonsedge
4. Eriophorum viridicarinatum (Engelm.) Fern.
7. Fimbristylis Vahl
1. Fimbristylis autumnalis (L.) R. & S.
2. Fimbristylis puberula (Michx.) Vahl
8. Fuirena Rottb. -- Umbrella-grass
1. Fuirena simplex Vahl
9. Hemicarpha Ness
1. Hemicarpha drummondii Nees
2. Hemicarpha micrantha (Vahl) Britt.
10. Rhynchospora Vahl -- Beak-rush
1. Rhynchospora capillacea Torr.
11. Scirpus L. -- Bulrush
1. Scirpus acutus Muhl. ex Bigel. -- Hardstem bulrush
2. Scirpus cyperinus (L.) Kunth. -- Wool grass
3. Scirpus fluviatilis (Torr.) A. Gray -- River bulrush
4. Scirpus heterochaetus Chase -- Slender bulrush
5. Scirpus maritimus L. -- Prairie bulrush
6. Scirpus microcarpus Presl -- Redstem bulrush
7. Scirpus nevadensis S. Wats. -- Nevada bulrush
8. Scirpus pallidus (Britt.) Fern. -- Pale bulrush
9. Scirpus pendulinus Muhl.
10. Scirpus pungens Vahl -- Three-square
11. Scirpus saximontanus Fern.
12. Scirpus tabernaemontani Gmel. -- Softstem bulrush


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