Pine Barrens Cyperus

Pine_Barrens_Cyperus_jpgThe Cyperaceae family commonly called the Rush or Sedge family includes eight genera and approximately three hundred species of grass-like plants.  In ancient times rushes were used to make roofs, writing instruments, bedding, caulking for ships and some were used to make arrows.  A more poetic use was for musical pipes.  In the Middle Ages rushes were used to cover cold stone floors and were swept away when dirty. The genus Cyperus is from the Greek Cyperos and the species retrorsusmeans “turned backward”. The presence of members of this family of plants indicates damp soil or low meadows. The following rhythm may help distinguish rushes from the similar appearing sedges, grasses, and rushes: Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses have joints from the tips to the ground. Other plants in this genus are also found at Island Beach State Park for example, False Nut-Sedge (Cyprus strigosus),Yellow Nutgrass (Cyperus esculentus),and Nutall’s Cyperus (Cyperus filicinus).  Yellow Nutgrass is edible raw or as a cooked vegetable.  The tubers can be used to prepare a coffee substitute or a cold drink.

OtherCommonName:

Pine Barrens Umbrella Sedge

ScientificName:

Cyperus retrorsus

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

12 to 40 inches

FruitingTime:

Late July to Mid-September

Distribution:

New York to Florida & west to Texas ~ Coastal Plain in New Jersey

FloweringTime:

Late July to Mid-September

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Stems very slender, smooth ~ Leaves shorter than the stems, pale green, firm ~ Spikelets very numerous, crowded, radiating horizontally ~ Spikes long, dense, cylindrical ~ 1 to 3 flowered