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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

Cyperus L. -- Galingale, umbrella sedge

Very small to medium-sized, often tufted, grasslike plants, annual or perennial; culms simple, sharply trigonous. Leaves (excluding the involucres) mostly basal, the blades flat or conduplicate, grasslike, erect or spreading. Inflorescence terminal, umbellate, subtended by few to several foliaceous involucral bracts; spikelets numerous, arranged in 1-several hemispheric, subglobose or cylindric spikes, at least one of which (the terminal one) is sessile, the others borne on elongate rays originating from the orifice in the axil of the involucre; scales and their subtended flowers arranged in a distichous manner in the spikelets. Flowers perfect; perianth lacking; stamens 1-3; styles trifid or bifid, the achenes correspondingly trigonous or lenticular.


Marcks, B. G.  1974.  Preliminary reports on the flora of Wisconsin.  No. 66.  
     Cyperaceae II -- Sedge Family II.  The genus Cyperus -- the 
     umbrella sedges.  Trans. Wisconsin Acad. Sci. 62:261-284.

Lead Characteristic Go To
1 Spikelets overlapping in dense hemispheric to subglobose spikes. Lead 2
1 Spikelets loosely arranged in subglobose or cylindric spikes, mostly not overlapping. Lead 3
2 Scales with an outwardly curved awn 0.5-1 mm long, conspicuously (5)7- to 9-nerved. C. aristatus
2 Scales acuminate, curving outward toward the tip, strongly 3-nerved. C. acuminatus
3 Achenes lenticular; styles bifid; scales strongly pigmented with purplish-brown; spikes loosely subglobose. Lead 4
3 Achenes trigonous; styles trifid; scales pale to stramineous or brown; spikes cylindric, with the spikelets pinnately disposed on a more or less elongate rachis. Lead 5
4 Styles exserted ca. 2 mm, persistent, cleft nearly to the base; scales more pigmented near the tip. C. diandrus
4 Styles exserted less than 1 mm, deciduous, undivided in the lower 1/3; scales more pigmented near the base. C. bipartitus
5 Scales not overlapping in the spikelets, the tip of each one not reaching the base of the scale directly above it (on the same side of the rachilla). C. engelmannii
5 Scales overlapping in the spikelets, the tip of each one overlapping with the base of the scale directly above it. Lead 6
6 Scales 1-1.5 mm long, 3- to 5-nerved in the green midstripe, the sides nerveless. C. erythrorhizos
6 Scales mostly 2-4.5 mm long, with 7-13 well distributed nerves, these sometimes faint. Lead 7
7 Scales 3-4.5 mm long; achenes less than 1/2 the length of their subtending scales; plants eventually with a hard, cormose base. C. strigosus
7 Scales 2-2.5 mm long; achenes over 1/2 the length of the scales; plants not cormose at the base. Lead 8
8 Plants perennial, producing tubers at the ends of underground scaly stolons (these usually evident even if no tubers are collected); rachilla remaining intact as the scales and achenes drop off, eventually the entire rachilla falling off as a whole. C. esculentus
8 Plants annual, producing fibrous roots only; rachilla disarticulating between the scales at maturity and falling in segments with the scales and achenes. C. odoratus

62. Cyperaceae, the Sedge Family
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

Return to Family -- Cyperaceae - The Sedge Family
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