Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yellow Nutsedge

This is an interesting flower. The plant seems to have sprouted a bouquet of golden bottle brushes. I’ve seen people cut these for use in fresh flower arrangements and marvel at the delicate beauty of the bloom. Others label the plant as a weed and spend hours trying to evict it from their gardens.

Yellow Nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus, is a native plant that takes advantage of habitat created for its use by man’s activities. Nutgrass is another commonly used name that deceives people into believing this sedge is some type of grass. Long narrow leaves mean grass to most people and they don’t care to know the difference.

The sign of a sedge is the three sided arrangement of the leaves. Stems will have three flat sides. I’ve always found the symmetry of a sedge plant to be something wondrous.

Nutsedge is a tremendously rapid colonizer of suitable space. The root mass is thick with rhizomes that grow in all directions, sending up new plants everywhere. The best growing medium for this plant is disturbed ground such as found in plowed farm fields or tilled gardens. This is one of the plants that isn’t concerned with a healthy soil structure or ecosystem. Anything that makes it easier to push rhizomes through the soil is beneficial to the nutsedge. Because of this, it is a persistent resident of most gardens and disturbed areas.

The key to successful nutsedge persistence is the development of dozens of tubers on the rhizomes. These tubers are like tiny potatoes and stay in the ground over the winter to begin a new crop in the spring. Pulling of the plant causes the tubers to detach and remain in the soil, making it nearly impossible for predators, including gardening humans, to do the population any permanent damage.

Being a native plant, it has a host of insects and other animals that look to it as a food source. These beetles were intensely interested in the blooming flowers. I’ve known voles to tear nutsedge areas to pieces looking for winter tubers.


  1. Very interesting post....makes alot since about the tubers...I have plants like that but not sure it is the exact one you have...and I have dried plants flower of or ...and used them in arrangment!!! There are alot of grasses in the field that I love that have very on them??
    Hope your not as hot as we are here....95-100 and muggy!!Whew!!!

  2. Steve, you make me smile! Once upon a time, I waged war against the nutgrass, too. Now? I carefully clip around it! I have lots of clumps of different carex on my property that make absolutely beautiful bouquets! At first glance, one might look upon my yard as unkempt. But they don't realize what delight I get in declaring areas of 'weeds' as No Mow Zones. ~karen

  3. grammie g - There are a lot of grasses I clip in the fall and dry for decorations. I've been know to carry them into people's houses and leave them in some suitable location as a decoration. Weather here is much cooler than there. We're only getting up to about 94 with a dry 50% humidity.

    Karen - I know what you mean. Years ago, the neighbor down the road volunteered to come over and mow the grass for me. He said, "It looks like you're having a little trouble with your mower." When he left, he was sure my mower worked, but was wondering about my head.