Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fragrant Spikesedge - Cyperus sesquiflorus   (Torrey) Mattfield & Kuekenthal
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Section 5 » Family Cyperaceae
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Author(Torrey) Mattfield & Kuekenthal
DistributionCoastal Plain, Sandhills, and lower Piedmont.

Pantropical, north to NC and AR. Though it ranges north to the VA border, the species is not yet known from that state.
AbundanceUncommon, except probably rare in the Piedmont.
HabitatMoist to wet margins of ponds and impoundments, blackwater rivers and streams, seepage areas, clearings, roadside ditches. Usually in sunny and damp places.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-September.
IdentificationFragrant Spikesedge is an attractive little plant. It grows 5 inches to one foot tall, multi-stemmed, with a single densely flowered head at the stem summits. The heads usually have 1-2 basal lobes. Female scales, and thus the head color, are white (vs. green in C. hortensis).
Taxonomic CommentsA synonym is Kyllinga odorata.

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)Whitehead Sedge
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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