pronounced: sy-pee-RAY-see-eye

the sedge family


The name is from the Greek κυπειρος (kypeiros), a sweet-smelling marsh plant. These are grass-like herbaceous plants, commonly found in wet or saturated conditions. Although they have a superficial resemblance to grasses, they are not closely related, and differ in many characteristics, particularly in the structure of the inflorescence. Sedges also usually have stems with triangular cross-section, and leaves that are spirally arranged in 3 ranks: grasses have alternate leaves forming 2 ranks. Sedge flowers are minute, and may be bisexual or unisexual. Each floret is in the axil of a chaffy bract and these are arranged spirally or distichously in spikelets. The perianth may be represented by scales or bristles in two whorls, or may be entirely lacking. The fruit is a 3-angled or lens-shaped achene.


Photograph © Donald Simpson 2013