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Some species superficially resemble the closely related rushes and the more distantly related grasses. Features distinguishing members of the sedge family from grasses or rushes are stems with triangular cross-sections (with occasional exceptions) and leaves that are spirally arranged in three ranks. In comparison, grasses have alternate leaves, forming two ranks.
Some well-known sedges include the water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) and the papyrus sedge (Cyperus papyrus), from which the writing material papyrus was made. This family also includes cotton-grass (Eriophorum), spike-rush (Eleocharis), sawgrass (Cladium), nutsedge or nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus, a common lawn weed), and white star sedge (Rhynchospora colorata). “Sedges have edges, rushes are round and grasses are hollow right up from the ground!” Like grasses, sedges tend to form in either dense clumps or tufts. Unlike grasses, they usually have three-sided stems (although Bulrush sedge (Schoenoplectus) has cylindrical stems) and leaves – in the form of true leaves, flaps or sheaths – that are borne in threes in spiraling vertical positions up the stem.Sedges have a diverse distribution and can be found in all parts of the world except Antarctica. They grow in a broad range of habitats and altitudes, from the Arctic tundra through to temperate and tropical regions and are predominant plants in many wetlands. They also like man-made habitats such as canal banks and ditches.
The most well-known sedges are the Water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) and Papyrus sedge (Cyperus papyrus) – from which papyrus paper was made – and Bulrushes (Schoenoplectus), Cotton-grass (Eriophorum), Spike-rush (Eleocharis), Sawgrass (Cladium), Nutsedge/Nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus) and the White-star sedge (Rhynchospora colorata). Interestingly, the inappropriately named Bulrush (Typha latifolia/Schoenoplectus lacustris) and the Club-rush (Holoschoenus vulgaris) are also sedges and not rushes.References: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Division of Technology, Industry and Economics; Botany for gardeners, Brian Capon, Third edition, Timber Press; Colour Identi cation Guide to the Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and north-western Europe, Francis Rose, Viking, The Penguin Group; Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, London; Missouri Botanical Garden; Latin for gardeners, Lorraine Harrison, Royal Horticultural Society; International Botanical Congress (IBC); RHS Gardeners’ encyclopaedia, Christopher Brickell ed., Dorling Kindersley; The Royal Horticultural Society; The Wild Flower Key, Frances Rose, Warne; Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press. (Source: www.plant-ark.com)