Talk:Cyperaceae

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Genus order used here follows taxonomic order used in UK floras

How are sedges different from grasses and rushes?[edit]

I've heard that sedges have no leaves (only green stems). Is this true for all sedges? Is this not true for rushes? What other differences are there between sedges and rushes? Chira 02:07, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

I think they all have leaves, but sometimes the leaves look like stems. Here's a website that talks about how to tell them apart. [1] --Allen 02:19, 4 June 2006 (UTC)


Here's another one [2] Seems that in most grasses the leaf's sheath around the stem is split, but not with most sedges Eug 10:11, 17 June 2006 (UTC)
All Eleocharis that I'm familiar with are "almost leafless" (undeveloped leaf sheath around the base of the stem) (one example: [3]). I see this doesn't apply to all sedges... are there any other easy ways we can distinguish them? I remember a botanist professor mentioning that grasses grow from the base rather than the tip (good for being grazed on), I wonder what growing habits sedges have. --Chira 14:30, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

Hmm, interesting. I've always been under the impression that sedges differ from grasses primarily because the sedge has a triangular stem and that the leaves grow from a central clump. Grass (I believe, I have not made a detailed study) grows from either a central clump or the stem. Also, grasses are usually adventitious, wheras sedges are not. I find the stems of sedges most interesting of all. It seems that the leaves clasp onto the stem as it grows, and then fall back as this unusual infloresence bursts forth with all the glory of a sedge. -Pasque 15:47, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

The triangular stem is what I've heard too. I've added this to the article (with some references). I'm sure there's more we could say on this subject with more research/expertise. Kingdon 14:43, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

A while since the above discussion, but the following might be useful... Most sedges do have leaves, but some don't, or they only have bracts (leaf-like things adjacent to flowers). If they have leaves, they do often have a sheath and a blade, like grasses (they even have a similar ligule). Grass sheaths do not necessarily split, and sedge sheaths may also do so, so that rule is no good. Both grasses and sedges may grow from the base. Either may be adventitious, though sedges rarely (if ever?) spread above ground – if they creep, it's usually as underground rhizomes, while grasses may creep above or below ground. Both include many non-creeping (tufted or tussock-forming) species.

However, don't despair, there is one almost universal way of telling them apart – by the arrangement of the leaves (if the plant does have them...). Sedge stems may be round, but if not they are indeed triangular. The leaves come off the flat sides in a spiral, each separated by one third of a turn, with every third leaf directly above the first. This means that the leaves are in three ranks, and if you look from above, the plant forms a three-pointed star – if laid on a flat surface a shoot will be propped up on two of the ranks of leaves. Grasses have leaves on alternate sides, forming only two ranks – a shoot will lie flat on a flat surface (if grass stems are not round they are flattened). All this is usually clear in both sedges and grasses even if the stem itself is hidden within the sheaths.

Also, don't forget about rushes... One saying I was taught was "sedges have edges, rushes are round" – but this does not apply to all sedges (eg Eleocharis, Schoenoplectus), nor in fact to all rushes (Luzula and some Juncus). It does however cover a large proportion of the common ones (here in Europe anyway), which are mainly Carex and Juncus respectively. Many Juncus rushes (like the sedge Eleocharis mentioned above) have stems with no leaves, or they have a round bract continuing the line of the stem above the flowers, and the leaves and stems may be almost indistinguishable.

Finally, there are many other grass-like plants which can catch you out (Sparganium, Typha, Allium, and even Pilularia). Richard New Forest (talk) 23:48, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Definition of "Rank" ?[edit]

I think this article illustrates marvelously a constant problem on Wikipedia:

Technical abstruseness.

In order to comprehend this article, one has to know the definition of the word "rank" as it applies in this context. But - contrary to what the writer seems to expect - most people don't know the meaning of the word.

And here's the thing to get: No one has time to look it up.

The majority of readers - I promise you - come here for quick information.

And the majority of readers - again, I promise you - are going to be turned off by these types of articles if they're looking to truly learn about the topic at-hand. And that will steer people away from using Wikipedia in the future.

The constant use of "technical" terminology by writers who work in fields related to discussed topics in their articles is pretentious.

Bottom line: This article is useless to me. And that's probably true for most readers. I'm going to have to go elsewhere to learn about sedges, since this article contains no information about what a sedge is.

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