Purple umbrella sedge Cyperus congestus, photographed by Colin Ogle.

Belongs within: Cyperaceae.

The genus Cyperus, sedges, are found in damp habitats in tropical and warm temperate parts of the world. The four subgenera Cyperus, Kyllingia, Mariscus and Pycreus are sometimes treated as separate genera. The subgenera Cyperus and Mariscus have trifid styles and trigonous nuts; Kyllingia and Pycreus have bifid styles and biconvex nuts (Healy & Edgar 1980).

The papyrus plant Cyperus papyrus was, as its name suggests, the source of the fibre used by the ancient Egyptians for making papyrus. The chufa or tiger nut Cyperus esculentus is cultivated in some parts of the world for its edible tubers. Some species of this genus, however, have become serious pasture pests.

Characters (from Healy & Edgar 1980): Annual or perennial, often rhizomatous herbs. Stems leafy at base or leaves reduced to basal sheaths. Inflorescence umbellate or capitate, surrounded by 1-several leaf-like involucral bracts. Spikelets compressed or subterete, 1-many-flowered, usually clustered in spikes at tips of rays or in a sessile spike. Flowers hermaphrodite. Glumes distichous, usually all fertile. Hypogynous bristles absent. Stamens 2-3 or 1. Style bi- or trifid, continuous with ovary, not thickened at base. Nut trigonous or biconvex.

Cyperus [Cypereae]
    |--C. subg. Cyperus HE80
    |    |--C. albostriatus Schrader 1832 HE80
    |    |--C. eragrostis de Lamarck 1791 (see below for synonymy) HE80
    |    |--C. esculentus Linnaeus 1753 [incl. C. esculentus var. sativus] HE80
    |    |--C. involucratus Rottboel 1772 [incl. C. flabelliformis] HE80
    |    |--C. longus Linnaeus 1753 HE80
    |    |--C. rotundus Linnaeus 1753 HE80
    |    `--C. tenellus Linnaeus 1781 HE80
    |--C. subg. Kyllingia HE80
    |    |--‘Kyllingia’ aphylla C55
    |    |--C. brevifolius (Rottboel) Hasskarl 1844 [=Kyllingia brevifolia] HE80
    |    |--‘Kyllingia’ bulbosa non Cyperus bulbosus PP07
    |    |--‘Kyllingia’ cylindrica MB08
    |    |--C. kyllingia Endlicher 1842 HE80
    |    |--‘Kyllingia’ monocephala C55
    |    `--‘Kyllingia’ tenuifolia KYK07 [incl. Cyperus triceps P03, K. triceps KYK07]
    |--C. subg. Mariscus HE80
    |    |--C. congestus Vahl 1806 [=Mariscus congestus] HE80
    |    |--C. gunnii Hooker 1858 HE80
    |    `--C. ustulatus Richard 1832 HE80 (see below for synonymy)
    `--C. subg. Pycreus HE80
         |--C. polystachyos Rottboel 1773 HE80
         |--‘Pycreus’ pumilus PP07
         `--C. sanguinolentus Vahl 1806 HE80

Cyperus incertae sedis:
  C. alopecuroides VB02
  C. alternifolius HE80
  C. alulatus PP07
  C. aquatilis LK14
  C. articulatus C55
  C. astartodes LK14
  C. atkinsonii PP07
  C. aurantiacus C55
  C. breviculmis LK14
  C. bulbosus PP07
  C. carinatus LK14
  C. castaneus LK14
    |--C. c. var. castaneus LK14
    `--C. c. var. brevimucronatus LK14
  C. compactus LK14
  C. compressus PP07
  C. concinnus LK14
  C. conglomeratus C00
  C. conicus LK14
  C. cracens LK14
  C. crispulus LK14
  C. cristulatus LK14
  C. cunninghamii LK14
    |--C. c. ssp. cunninghamii LK14
    `--C. c. ssp. uniflorus LK14
  C. cuspidatus PP07
  C. cyperoides P03
  C. dactylotes LK14
  C. difformis VB02
  C. distans C55
  C. elegans C55
  C. flaccidus LK14
  C. fulvus C45
  C. haspan C55
    |--C. h. ssp. haspan LK14
    `--C. h. ssp. juncoides LK14
  C. holoschoenus LK14
  C. iria PP07
  C. javanicus LK14
  C. laevigatus PP07
  C. latzii LK14
  C. ligularis C55
  C. lucidus P82
  C. macrostachyos LK14
  C. microcephalus LK14
    |--C. m. ssp. microcephalus LK14
    `--C. m. ssp. saxicola LK14
  C. nervulosus LK14
  C. nutans P03
    |--C. n. ssp. nutans LK14
    `--C. n. ssp. eleusinoides LK14
  C. papyrus HE80
  C. pedunculatus C78
  C. picardae J87
  C. pseudovegetus SF98
  C. pulchellus LK14
  C. rehmii CV06
  C. scariosus LK14
  C. schoenoides C74
  C. setaceus VB02
  C. sexflorus LK14
  C. sphacelatus C55
  C. squarrosus LK14 [=Mariscus squarrosus PP07]
  C. sulcinux LK14
  C. tenuispica LK14
  C. vaginatus LK14
  C. victoriensis LK14
  C. viscidulus LK14
  C. virens SF98
  C. zollingeri LK14

Cyperus eragrostis de Lamarck 1791 [incl. C. gracilis Buchanan 1871 (preoc.), C. buchananii Kirk 1878, C. vegetus] HE80

Cyperus ustulatus Richard 1832 HE80 [=Mariscus ustulatus (Richard) Clarke in Cheesem. 1906 ME70; incl. C. ustulatus f. grandispiculosus Kük. ex Carse 1916 ME70]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[C78] Clunie, N. M. U. 1978. The vegetation. In: Womersley, J. S. (ed.) Handbooks of the Flora of Papua New Guinea vol. 1 pp. 1–11. Melbourne University Press: Carlton South (Australia).

[C74] Coineau, Y. 1974. Éléments pour une monographie morphologique, écologique et biologique des Caeculidae (Acariens). Mémoires du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, nouvelle série, Série A, Zoologie 81: 1–299, 24 pls.

[C45] Colenso, W. 1845. Memoranda of an excursion, made in the Northern Island of New Zealand, in the summer of 1841-2; intended as a contribution towards the natural productions of the New Zealand groupe: with particular reference to their botany (concluded). Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science 2: 241–308.

[CV06] Craven, P., & P. Vorster. 2006. Patterns of plant diversity and endemism in Namibia. Bothalia 36 (2): 175–189.

[C00] Cunningham, P. 2000. Daily activity pattern and diet of a population of the spiny-tailed lizard, Uromastyx aegyptius microlepis, during summer in the United Arab Emirates. Zoology in the Middle East 21: 37–46.

[HE80] Healy, A. J., & E. Edgar. 1980. Flora of New Zealand vol. 3. Adventive cyperaceous, petalous and spathaceous monocotyledons. P. D. Hasselberg, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

[KYK07] Khan, M. R., P. S. Yadava & A. Kikim. 2007. Additions to the flora of Manipur. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 49 (1–4): 215–218.

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

[MB08] Maiden, J. H., & E. Betche. 1908. Notes from the Botanic Gardens, Sydney. No. 13. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 33: 304–319.

[ME70] Moore, L. B., & E. Edgar. 1970. Flora of New Zealand vol. 2. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Monocotyledones except Gramineae. A. R. Shearer, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

[PP07] Pandey, R. P., & P. M. Padhye. 2007. Studies on phytodiversity of Arid Machia Safari Park-Kailana in Jodhpur (Rajasthan). Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 49 (1–4): 15–78.

[P03] Paul, T. K. 2003. Botanical observations on the Purulia pumped storage hydropower project area, Bagmundi Hills, Purulia district, West Bengal. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 45 (1–4): 121–142.

[P82] Pickard, J. 1982. Catastrophic disturbance and vegetation on Little Slope, Lord Howe Island. Australian Journal of Ecology 7: 161–170.

[SF98] Saikkonen, K., S. H. Faeth, M. Helander & T. J. Sullivan. 1998. Fungal endophytes: a continuum of interactions with host plants. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 29: 319–343.

[VB02] Vijay, S. K., & T. N. Bhardwaja. 2002. Vegetation and phenodynamics of wetlands of central Rajasthan. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 99 (3): 573–581.

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