The Cyperaceae are a family of
Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the An ...
Monocotyledons (), commonly referred to as monocots, (Lilianae ''sensu'' Chase & Reveal) are grass and grass-like flowering plants (angiosperms), the seeds of which typically contain only one Embryo#Plant embryos, embryonic leaf, or cotyledon. Th ...
ous flowering plants known as sedges. The
In human society
A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same Politic ...
is large, with some 5,500 known species described in about 90
Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank
In biological classification
In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
the largest being the "true sedges" genus ''
''Carex'' is a vast genus of more than 2,000 species of grass-like plants in the family (biology), family Cyperaceae, commonly known as sedges (or seg, in older books). Other members of the family Cyperaceae are also called sedges, however those ...
with over 2,000 species.
These species are widely distributed, with the centers of diversity for the group occurring in
The tropics are the region of Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% i ...
Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...
South America is a continent
A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...
. While sedges may be found growing in almost all environments, many are associated with
A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months). Flooding results in oxygen-free (Anoxic waters, anoxic) processes prevailing, especially in the soils. ...
, or with poor soils.
In ecology, a community is a group or association (ecology), association of populations of two or more different species occupying the same geographical area at the same time, also known as a biocoenosis, biotic community, biological community ...
dominated by sedges are known as sedgelands or sedge meadows.
Some species superficially resemble the closely related rushes
and the more distantly related
Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family
In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain ...
es. Features distinguishing members of the sedge family from grasses or rushes are stems with triangular cross-sections (with occasional exceptions) and leaves that are spirally arranged in three ranks. In comparison, grasses have alternate leaves, forming two ranks.
Some well-known sedges include the water chestnut (''
''Eleocharis dulcis'', the Chinese water chestnut or water chestnut, is a grass-like sedge
The Cyperaceae are a family of graminoid
Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science
Science (from ...
'') and the papyrus sedge (''
''Cyperus papyrus'', papyrus, papyrus sedge, paper reed, Indian matting plant or Nile grass, is a species of aquatic
Aquatic means relating to water
Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and n ...
''), from which the writing material
Papyrus ( ) is a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface. It was made from the pith of the papyrus plant, ''Cyperus papyrus'', a wetland sedge. ''Papyrus'' (plural: ''papyri'') can also refer to a do ...
was made. This family also includes cotton-grass (''
''Eriophorum'' (cottongrass, cotton-grass or cottonsedge) is a genus of flowering plant
The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), or ...
''), spike-rush (''
''Eleocharis'' is a virtually cosmopolitan
Cosmopolitan may refer to:
Food and drink
* Cosmopolitan (cocktail), also known as a "Cosmo"
* Rootless cosmopolitan, a Soviet derogatory epithet during Joseph Stalin's anti-Semitic campaign ...
''), sawgrass (''
''Cladium'' (fen-sedge, sawgrass or twig-sedge) is a genus of large sedges, with a nearly worldwide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. These are plants characterized by long, narrow (grass-like) leaves having sharp, often serrated (s ...
''), nutsedge or nutgrass (''
''Cyperus rotundus'' (coco-grass, Java grass, nut grass, purple nut sedge or purple nutsedge, red nut sedge, Khmer kravanh chrukMartin, Robert & Pol Chanthy, 2009''Weeds of Upland Cambodia'', ACIAR Monagraph 141, Canberra.) is a species of sedg ...
'', a common lawn weed), and white star sedge (''
''Rhynchospora colorata'', also known as starrush whitetop, white star sedge and white-topped sedge, is a perennial
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term ('' per-'' + '' -ennial'', "throug ...
, 88 genera are accepted in
Kew () is a district in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames () in southwest London
London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of Eng ...
Plants of the World Online
Plants of the World Online is an online database published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a non-departmental public bodyIn the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied ...
''Angiosperm Phylogeny Website''