Coefficient of Conservatism:
Coefficient of Wetness:
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).