Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Greenhead Flatsedge - Cyperus brevifolius   (Rottboell) Endlicher & Hasskarl
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Cyperus with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 5 » Family Cyperaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
Author(Rottboell) Endlicher & Hasskarl
DistributionLow Mountains, and a few scattered records in the Piedmont, Sandhills, and outer Coastal Plain. A specimen from Jackson County has no data nor image at WCUH; it needs careful ID. This species is no doubt overlooked and under-collected. Also often misidentified as C. brevifolioides. Specimens at NCU were annotated again in November 2021.

Southern VA to OK, south to FL and TX; CA.
AbundanceRare to locally uncommon in the Mountains; very rare elsewhere. The website editors suggest a State Rank of S1S2 and a Watch List status.
HabitatLawns, pastures, alluvium of river (French Broad in Madison County), margin of lake (Lake Tomahawk in Buncombe County). Generally in disturbed damp ground.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-September.
IdentificationPlants always less than 1 foot tall, and often less than 6 inches, connected via horizontal rhizomes. The inflorescence is a dense head, which is pale green. Achenes (seeds) are < 1.4 mm long. C. brevifolioides -- apparently not native in the U.S., also has long rhizomes, but its longest floral bract sticks out horizontally or is generally reflexed (vs. erect); its achenes are usually >1.6 mm long.
Taxonomic CommentsA synonym is Kyllinga brevifolia. FNA uses this name, spiltting Kyllinga from Cyperus.

The genus Cyperus is mostly tropical and warm-temperate in distribution; thus, in NC it is much commoner in the Coastal Plain than in the Mountains and Piedmont. Most species have 1-few flowering stems (culms) from grasslike basal leaves, plus a few stem leaves. At the summit is an inflorescence of very open and branched, or tightly packed, spikes, varying among species from brown to golden brown to straw-color to reddish. The arrangement of the spikelets is important, whether like a hand (digitate) or in paired rows (pinnate); as is the shape of the achene (seed), whether bi-convex in cross-section or triangular. As a group, Cyperus tends to be weedy and readily enters disturbed ground; this is true for many natives as well as all the aliens. In recent years, following DNA research, the genus has incorporated several genera that in RAB (1968) or other manuals were separate: Hemicarpha, Lipocarpha, and Kyllinga.
Other Common Name(s)Shortleaf Spikesedge
State RankS1 [S1S2]
Global RankGNR
State Status[W7]
US Status
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Select a source
Select an occurrence type