Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Purple Nutsedge - Cyperus rotundus   L.
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Cyperus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Cyperaceae
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DistributionMostly Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont; also Mecklenburg and Polk counties.

Native to the tropics around the world; possibly native to the southernmost portions of N.A.
AbundanceUncommon in the Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont; rare westward.
HabitatDisturbed places such as lawns, roadsides, fields, cultivated fields, etc.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting June-October.
IdentificationPurple Flatsedge grows from narrow, horizontal rhzomes; erect stems grow 9 inches to 1.5 feet tall. The inflorescence is branched and open, with open (not dense) spikes that are pale to dark red.
Taxonomic CommentsThe 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.
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Global RankG5
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