4,500 species (98/4350 in Mabberley
1997), especially in temperate habitats; mostly rhizomatous herbs. Leaves
often three-ranked, stem triangular in section. Flowers unisexual or bisexual,
wind-pollinated, in 1- to many-flowered spikes or spikelets. Placentation
basal, the ovule arising from the floral apex. Fruit
an achene, the single seed within not joined joined to the ovary
wall. Both C3
and C4 photosynthesis, leaf anatomy are present in Cyperaceae.
Scarcely palatable to animals (inc. humans) and of virtually no economic
importance in comparison with Poaceae; some species are used as food
(their tubers) or medicinally (rhizome of Cyperus corymbosus - Mabberley
1997). Thin strips of the leaf pith of Cyperus papyrus laid up
side by side and at right angles side by side again to make papyrus (root
of the word "paper").
Rhynchospora insect-pollinated (inflorescence bracts partly white)
Compare Cyperaceae to with Poaceae with respect to spikelet and fruit structure
Cyperaceae Interactive Identification Keys - This link is to their illustrated glossary, from which you can also access interactive keys for selected genera.
The Cyperaceae are nearly unique in possessing a suite of unusual cytological fearures (Hipp et al. 2009):
One can speculate that chromosome evolution in the Cyperaceae could be an important factor contributing to frquent speciation in the family, particularly in the genus Carex.
subfamilies and exemplar Ontario genera (in bold, seen in lab 23-Oct-97).
Flowers perfect (bisexual)
Also: Blysmus, Lipocarpha
The Flora North America treatment of the Cyperaceae (Ball, Reznicek, Murray 2002) is available HERE:
L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz
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