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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Yellow Nut Sedge

Scientific Name: Cyperus esculentus L.

Other Names: CYPES, souchet comestible, Chufa, Earth almond, Ground almond, Northern nut-grass, Nut-grass, Rushnut, Yellow nut-grass, amande de terre, souchet rampant.

Family: Sedge Family (Cyperaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by underground stems (rhizomes) and tubers. It is easily distinguished from all grasses by its triangular stem together with slender, tuber-bearing rhizomes. Several other species of nut sedge also occur in Ontario but this is the most troublesome one and the most likely to occur in cultivated land.

Habitat: Yellow nut sedge is native on moist, sandy soils throughout much of North America. It is common in Southern Ontario, frequently infesting moist areas of cultivated fields, pastures, roadsides, gardens and lawns.

Seedlings

  • Rarely occur
  • Leafy shoots are hairless and arise from a rhizome or tuber
  • Leaves do not have ligules or auricles
  • Leaves have a distinct ridge along the midvein

Roots

  • The underground system is a mixture of long, thin, wiry rhizomes 5- 20 cm (2- 8 in.) long or longer, and a mass of fine fibrous roots
  • Rhizomes:
    • Light brown to whitish
    • Have nodes and internodes with short, dark brown, dry scale-like sheaths
  • Tubers:
    • Produced at the tips of some rhizomes
    • Dark brown
    • Somewhat spindled-shaped
    • 5- 20 mm (1/5- 4/5 in.) long and usually narrower
    • Edible with a taste somewhat suggestive of almonds

Stems

  • 10- 90 cm (4 in.- 3 ft) high
  • Distinctly triangular in cross-section
  • Usually less than 1 cm (2/5 in.) thick

Leaves

  • Numerous at the base of the plant and sparse up the stem except for a cluster of usually 3 to 5 at the base of the inflorescence
  • Alternate
  • 3-ranked (i.e. the leaves pointing outwards in 3 directions from the stem)
  • Leaf sheath closed forming a 3-sided cylinder around the stem
  • Leaf blades:
    • Grass-like
    • Long (often longer than the stem)
    • Narrow, 3- 10 mm (1/8- 2/5 in.) wide
    • Flat or somewhat folded
    • Light green to yellowish-green
  • No ligule and no auricles

Flowers

  • Inflorescence an umbrella-like cluster of yellowish to brownish branches at the tip of the stem
  • Spikelets (containing the seeds) very small and closely arranged along slender secondary branches
  • Flowers from July to August

Often Confused With
Purple Nut Sedge (The leaves of yellow nut sedge gradually taper to a point, those of purple nut sedge taper to a point abruptly. Also the seedhead of purple nut sedge is purple, yellow nut sedge is yellow)
Annual Grasses

Yellow nut sedge seed head Yellow nut sedge leaf sheath
Click to enlarge.