Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Fragrant Flatsedge - Cyperus odoratus var. odoratus   L.
Members of Cyperaceae:
Members of Cyperus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Family Cyperaceae
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AuthorL.
DistributionCoastal Plain and lower Piedmont; a couple records in middle and upper Piedmont. The gaps in the map are probably real.

Southern ME to southern Ont. and MN, south to FL, TX, and CA.
AbundanceUncommon to frequent in the outer Coastal Plain; uncommon to rare elsewhere. This species seems generally scarce on the landscape.
HabitatFresh and brackish marshes, riverside marshes, shores of oxbow ponds and impoundments, beaver ponds, roadside ditches.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting July-October.
IdentificationCyperus odoratus in the field looks similar to other species with branched inflorescences, but it differs in one major way. When fruits are mature, each seed breaks off from the spikelet with a scale and a small portion of the rachis (stalk of the spikelet). Our other spikesedges, when mature, merely drop seeds without anything else attached. Differs from var. engelmannii by shorter seeds (1-1.5 mm vs. 1.5-2).
Taxonomic CommentsThis is a pantropical and warm-temperate species with much variation. Many authors, including FNA, do not recognize infraspecific taxa.

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.
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Global RankG5T5
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