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Kyllinga Rottb.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Genus Parent: Cyperaceae Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • SPIKE SEDGE - English, United States of America
  • GREEN-HEAD SEDGE - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Diagnosis: Small rhizomatous or tufted annuals or perennials to 40(–55) cm tall; inflorescence a single, cylindrical to ovoid or roundish, unlobed to 3-lobed, congested head or head-like mass, (3–)4– 12(–17) mm long, subtended by usually 3–4 involucral bracts; spikelets flat, 1.8–4 mm long, each with only a single, fertile, bisexual flower and only 4 scales, 2 of these normal in size, the basal 2 minute, brownish, the scales 2-ranked; spiklets each deciduous as a unit; styles 2- branched; achene 1 per spikelet, lenticular, without a tubercle.


Notes: A genus of ca. 40–45 species, mostly of tropical or warm temperate regions worldwide, with the greatest diversity in tropical Africa and Madagascar; 8 occur in the New World (Tucker 1984a, 2002a). Kyllinga is closely related to and is sometimes included in the genus Cyperus. Recent molecular studies (e.g., Muasya et al. 2002) suggest that it is embedded within a paraphyletic Cyperus. However, Kyllinga can be distinguished by its spikelets with only 2 scales (plus 2 greatly reduced, minute, brownish, basal scales) and only 1 bisexual fertile flower. In addition, the “dense, sessile spikes of Kyllinga give the plants a different aspect from most species of Cyperus with their usually open, branched inflorescences” (Tucker 1984a). (Named for Peter Kylling, died 1696, Danish botanist)