Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)

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This native perennial sedge grows up to 80 cm tall with shallow root system is fibrous, rhizomatous, and tuberous. Tubers are more or less globes, usually soft, with rings around the tuber. The central stem is 3-angled, and mostly covered by the sheaths of the leaves. Leaves are grass-like, up to 30 cm long and 12 mm wide, expanded, glabrous, smooth and shiny. Originate from the base of the plant. There is an obvious channel along the central vein of each leaf blade, especially the larger ones. Has a compound or simple umbel inflorescence. Spikelets are up to 2 cm long, 8-14 flowered straw-colored or often yellow, compressed; glumes ovate. At the base of each umbel or compound umbel of spikelets, there are several leafy bracts of varying length; the largest bract is usually longer than the inflorescence.

Key Identifiers
  • Perennial with rhizomes terminating in tubers or leafy plants
  • Stems triangular
  • Unbranched plant with hair-less grass-like leaves towards base or just below inflorescence
Location in Canada
In Canada, yellow nutsedge occurs in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, southern Quebec and southern Ontario.


John Cardina, The Ohio State University,

Steve Dewey, Utah State University,
Similar species
Cyperus spp. Other species of nut sedge also occur in Alberta but are not troublesome and not likely to occur in cultivated land. Cyperus esculentus can be distinguished from Cyperus species by the conspicuous scales on its rhizomes and by its terminal tubers. Both of these characteristics are entirely absent in the other species.
It is easily distinguished from all grasses by its triangular stem together with slender, tuber-bearing rhizomes.

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This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on April 10, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 21, 2018.