Cyperus esculentus L.
Coefficient of Conservatism: 1
Coefficient of Wetness: -3
Wetness Index: FACW
Physiognomy: Nt P-Sedge

Cyperus esculentus B. S. Walters

Moist shores, ditches, river banks, fields, and marshes; gardens, cultivated fields, and other disturbed sites, sometimes a serious weed; in sand (even dunes), mud, or clay.

Long known from the lower half of the Lower Peninsula, and reported as early as the First Survey (Wright, 1839; as Cyperus phymatodes), though no specimens have apparently survived. Records from the northernmost Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula are all more recent (post-1940), so the species has apparently been spreading northwards. 

The ability to quickly form colonies from rhizomes makes this an agressive weed when occurring in crop fields. The thin scaly rhizomes also produce, later in the season, small ± spherical tubers, which both overwinter and function in dispersal, as well as making the species difficult to eradicate. The rhizomes are quite fragile, and plants are seldom collected with tubers, but the slender scaly rhizomes, resembling roots, are very characteristic; together with the pale scales and large anthers, they make this one of the most easily recognized species.

Tubers produced by our wild plants are small (up to about 1 cm in diameter), but this is a very widespread species and in the old world, selections with much larger tubers (tiger nuts, chufa) have been cultivated since antiquity. There is also some evidence that Native Americans in eastern North America utilized this species, possibly for food, as far back as 8000 years ago (Hart & Ives, 2013).


Allegan County
Alpena County
Antrim County
Arenac County
Benzie County
Berrien County
Cheboygan County
Clinton County
Emmet County
Genesee County
Gogebic County
Gratiot County
Hillsdale County
Houghton County
Ingham County
Iosco County
Kalamazoo County
Kent County
Leelanau County
Lenawee County
Macomb County
Mason County
Mecosta County
Midland County
Monroe County
Newaygo County
Oakland County
Ottawa County
Schoolcraft County
Shiawassee County
St. Clair County
Washtenaw County
Wayne County


MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. October 27, 2021.