family of plants
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The family Cyperaceae, or the sedges, is a taxon of flowering plants. They look like grasses or rushes, but are not. They are monocot plants (as are grasses), but belong to a different family.[1]

Cyperus polystachyos flower head
Scientific classification

About 109

Broad-leaved cotton-grass (Eriophorum latifolium)

The family is large, with some 5,500 species described in about 109 genera.[2] The largest is the Carex genus of "true sedges", with over 2,000 species.[3][4]

Sedges include many wild marsh and grassland plants, and some cultivated ones such as water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) and papyrus sedge (Cyperus papyrus). These species are widely distributed, with many in tropical Asia and tropical South America. Sedges may be found growing in almost all environments. Many are wetlands, or have poor soils. Ecological communities dominated by sedges are known as sedgelands.

Members of the sedge family have stems with triangular cross-sections (there are occasional exceptions). Their leaves are spirally arranged in three ranks (grasses have alternate leaves forming two ranks).[5][6][7]


  1. "Cyperaceae". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [1]
  2. Govaerts R. 2007. World Checklist of Cyperaceae: Sedges. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 978-1-84246-199-0
  3. Milne, Lorus Johnson & Milne, Margery Joan Greene 1975. Living plants of the world. Random House, 301
  4. Hipp, Andrew L. 2007. Nonuniform processes of chromosome evolution in sedges (Carex: Cyperaceae). Evolution 61, 2175–2194. [2]
  5. "Grasslike non-grasses".
  6. Ball P.W; Reznicek A.A. & Murray D.F. Cyperaceae Jussieu in Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae. Flora of North America, vol 23, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-515207-4 [3]
  7. Speer, Brian R. 1995. Glumiflorae: more on morphology. University of California, Berkeley [4].