Yellow nutsedge Cyperus esculentus L.
Family: Cyperaceae (Sedge family)
Life cycle: Perennial, reproducing by seed, rhizomes and tubers
Native status: debated
Habitat: Crop fields, landscapes; prefers poorly drained soils.
General description: Erect plant with triangular stem, grass-like leaves that reach heights of 2 to 3 ft. Leaves are glossy and yellow green. Reproduction by rhizomes and tubers results in yellow nutsedge typically occurring in patches rather than individual plants.
Key ID traits: Triangular stem w/leaves coming off at 120° angles. Glossy, grass-like leaves.
Similar species: Numerous native sedge species are found in Iowa’s wetlands and prairies, but yellow nutsedge is the only sedge adapted to disturbed habitats. Other sedges are rarely found in managed landscapes - turf, crop fields, etc.
Miscellaneous: Yellow nutsedge (chufa) was one of the earliest cultivated plants, with the tubers used as a food-source. Tiger Nuts, yellow nutsedge tubers, are available in many health food stores. Purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus) is found in tropical areas and has been ranked as the world’s worst weed.