Fimbristylis cymosa (tropical fimbry)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Air Temperature
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Fimbristylis cymosa R.Br.
Preferred Common Name
- tropical fimbry
Other Scientific Names
- Fimbristylis atollensis H.St.John
- Fimbristylis capitulifera Merr.
- Fimbristylis pycnocephala
- Fimbristylis umbellato-capitata
- Iria cymosa (R.Br.) Kuntze
- Scirpus cymosus (R.Br.) Poir.
International Common Names
- Chinese: hei guo piao fu cao
Local Common Names
- USA: hurricane-grass
- USA/Hawaii: mauuakiaki
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
F. cymosa is a pantropical-subtropical, low-growing, perennial sedge species of coastal habitats. It is widespread and native to Asia, South and Central America, Australia and the Pacific Islands. While treated by some as native to Florida, it was reportedly first collected in the USA in southern Florida in the 1930s and has since spread throughout much of peninsular Florida. It has recently been found on the coastal sands of South Texas and its presence here could indicate that the species is capable of long range dispersal to coastal habitats. It is also recorded as having been introduced to Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Although its invasive potential is unknown, in Florida, it may be negatively impacting the endemic Big Pine partridge pea (Chamaecrista lineata var. keyensis) through competition or habitat alteration. Bryson and Carter (2008) also reported it as weedy in rice fields, sweet potato and taro.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Cyperaceae
- Genus: Fimbristylis
- Species: Fimbristylis cymosa
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The genus Fimbristylis belongs to the sedge family (Cyperaceae) and is characterized by the spiral arrangement of the glumes of its spikelets.
Fimbristylis is a large genus and includes a number of weedy species, such as the notorious F. litoralis (Holm et al., 1979).
Koyama (1985) treated Ceylonese plants as F. cymosa subsp. spathacea (Roth) T. Koyama based on the presence of biconvex achenes with bifid styles. As discussed by Kral (2002), New World specimens of F. cymosa (now including Texas plants) are bicarpellate with bifid styles and are thus treated as F. cymosa subsp. spathacea.
Fimbristylis cymosa was described by Robert Brown based on specimens collected from coastal Australia (from the protologue; Tropicos, 2015). Carl Kiuntze and Poiret (and others) provided combinations in Iria and Scirpus respectively and the wide-spread distribution of F. cymosa has resulted in extensive synonymy. A number of infraspecific taxa, including varieties, are recognized such as F. cymosa var. spathacea, var. microcephala, var. multifolia, var. pycnocephala, var. subcapitata and var. umbellato-capitata, as well as the subspecies F. cymosa subsp. umbellato-capitata (Tropicos, 2015).
DescriptionTop of page
F. cymosa is a short rhizomatous, low-growing perennial. In North America, F. cymosa is quite distinct from other perennial Fimbristylis in its dense rosette of stiff, spreading excurved leaves and compact cluster of spikelets forming a corymbose head-like inflorescence.
The following detailed description of F. cymosa in North America is adapted from Kral (2002).
Leaves are polystichous, mostly spreading-excurved, to half as long as culms; sheaths usually entire; ligule absent; blades linear, 2–3 mm wide, flat or shallowly involute, margin scabrid, apex blunt. Simple or compound inflorescences with numerous small pedunculate clusters of sessile spikelets; scapes linear, distally terete, 1–2 mm thick; involucral bracts short, usually shorter than inflorescence. Spikelets greenish brown or yellow-brown, ovoid, 2–3 mm; fertile scales broadly ovate, 1–1.5 mm, obtuse or apically notched, midrib not excurrent. Flowers usually have only 1 stamen; styles 2-fid, slender, glabrous. Achenes are dark brown to nearly black, tumidly obovoid, rarely obscurely 3-ribbed, 1 mm, faintly striate to variously warty, faintly reticulate.
New World examples of F. cymosa are almost exclusively bicarpellate, with bifid styles; Old World Oceania examples are tricarpellate, with trifid styles, (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2015).
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
F. cymosa is a widespread species known from tropical and subtropical coastal habitats, native to Australia, Mexico and South America (Australia - Queensland, Western Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador (USDA-ARS, 2015). Introduced to the USA (Florida) and widely to Africa, Asia, and Islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans (Koyama, 1985; Kral, 2002; Encyclopedia of Life, 2015; GBIF, 2015; IUCN, 2015). In West Africa records for F. obtusifolia include Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria. Hutchninson and Dalziel (1972) note that F. obtusifolia is ‘part of the world-wide F. cymosa complex of strand and atoll plants whose inter-relationships are not entirely clear’. Only recently has the species been reported in Texas (Rosen et al., 2012).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Saint Helena||Present||Introduced||Introduced to Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (Ascension)|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|United States||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Florida||Present, Localized||Introduced||Collections at FLAS are from Lee and Miami-Dade Counties|
|-Hawaii||Present, Widespread||Native||Recommended as a ground cover for home gardens|
|-Texas||Present, Localized||Introduced||First discovered in 2011 from a single disturbed site in Cameron county|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
F. cymosa has been introduced to Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha in the southern Atlantic Ocean (IUCN, 2015). While treated by some as native to Florida, it was reportedly first collected in the USA in southern Florida in the 1930s. It has quickly spread throughout much of peninsular Florida, especially in alkaline situations along the coasts (The Institute for Regional Conservation, 2015). In 2011, it was found on the coastal sands of South Texas, USA at a disturbed site on Padre Island (Rosen et al., 2012). Although it is difficult to determine when this introduction occurred, its rare occurrence suggests that it is a recent introduction. Given that it was found on the coast and the only other record of the species in the USA is in Florida, it could be speculated that F. cymosa is capable of long range dispersal to coastal habitats. However, further field work and monitoring is needed to determine the potential local and long distance dispersal of the species.
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The presence of F. cymosa on the coastal sands of South Texas suggests that this species could be capable of long range dispersal to coastal habitats, given that the only other record of this species in the USA is coastal Florida.
Sedges are readily spread when the fruits are dispersed.
HabitatTop of page
Fimbristylis includes over 100 species occurring in open, moist to wet habitats in tropical to sub-tropical climates (Kral, 2002). F. cymosa occurs on sands of sea beaches, brackish sandy open sites, often disturbed, commonly just in from mangrove or on sandy road shoulders (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2015). Collections and records of occurrence for F. cymosa are primarily from sandy or rocky coastal habitats (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015).
In Texas, F. cymosa has been found to occur in populations of several individuals interspersed with other plant species characteristic of coastal habitats.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Present, no further details|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Principal habitat|
|Freshwater||Rivers / streams||Present, no further details|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The chromosome number reported by Kral (2002) is 2n = 56.
F. cymosa, like most Cyperaceae, are wind pollinated. The fruit is an achene containing a single seed.
Physiology and Phenology
F. cymosa flowers and produces fruits throughout the year. No information of differences in phenology or eco-physiology between native and introduced populations is known.
ClimateTop of page
|A - Tropical/Megathermal climate||Preferred||Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||10||18|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||1500||mm; lower/upper limits|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Ants, thrips, mealy bugs, scale insects and aphids are reported to affect F. cymosa in Hawaii. Stressed potted plants may be infected by fungi or suffer from root mealy bugs. The stiff leaves apparently aid the plants’ resistance to slugs and snails (NPH, 2015).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
This species, like most members of Cyperaceae, is likely wind pollinated with fruits spread by wind, water and soil. It may also disperse asexually by plant fragments following disturbance or soil movement.
Fruits of F. cymosa are likely to be rarely dispersed by animals.
There is a high probability that the Horticulture trade is responsible for spreading F. cymosa.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
In a study of pine rocklands in Florida, F. cymosa was found to be one of the most abundant plant species. While treated by some as native to Florida, it was reportedly first collected in the 1930s and, amongst other introduced plants, may negatively impact the Big Pine partridge pea (Chamaecrista lineata var. keyensis – endemic to Florida and listed as a Candidate species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service); competing for space and resources or affecting the habitat and altering community structure and responses to fire (USFWS, 2013).
Little is known about the effect of F. cymosa on biodiversity or habitat structure following its recent introduction to Texas. At present, sites of its introduction seem to support the typical assemblage of native plant species.
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Has a broad native range
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
UsesTop of page
Fimbristylis species have been regarded as useful in turf. These plants are also ploughed in as green manures in rice fallows. Cattle readily eat their foliage. Two species are used medicinally in Malaysia. The roots are given for dysentery by santals (local doctors) in India. These sedges are also used for making matting and baskets (Burkill, 1966).
Uses ListTop of page
- Potted plant
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
F. cymosa is quite distinct from other perennial Fimbristylis in its dense rosette of stiff, spreading excurved leaves and compact cluster of spikelets forming a corymbose head-like inflorescence.
The presence of biconvex achenes with bifid styles can help distinguish the subspecies F. cymosa subsp. spathacea from F. cymosa (Kral, 2002).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Little is known about the management and control of F. cymosa. Like many weedy and invasive members of Cyperaceae, it is likely overlooked following recent introductions, either due to difficulty of identification or resemblance to native species. Soil disturbance, excavation, and moving plants may spread the species by fruit or vegetative fragments. For some invasive species belonging to the Cyperaceae family, it is speculated that fruits are spread in dried mud on the feet or fur of livestock. Practices such as decontamination of equipment and livestock may be an effective method to stem the spread.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Little information is available to determine the extent of this species invasiveness. Given that it was found on the coast and the only other record of the species in the USA is in Florida, it could be speculated that F. cymosa is capable of long range dispersal to coastal habitats. However, further field work and monitoring is needed to determine the potential local and long distance dispersal of the species.
ReferencesTop of page
Balick MJ; Arvigo R, 2015. Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 560 pp.
Bryson CT; Carter R, 2008. The significance of Cyperaceae as weeds. In: Sedges: uses, diversity and systematics of the Cyperaceae [ed. by Naczi, R. F. C.\Ford, B. A.]. St. Louis, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 15-101.
Burkill IH, 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsular, Vols I & II. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Encyclopedia of Life, 2015. Encyclopedia of Life. www.eol.org
Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2015. Flora of North America North of Mexico. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=1
Fosberg FR, 1988. Vegetation of Bikini Atoll. Atoll Research Bulletin, 315:1-28.
GBIF, 2015. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. http://www.gbif.org/species
HEAR, 2012. Alien species in Hawaii. Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/index.html
Hutchinson J; Dalziel JM, 1972. Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 3. 2nd edition. London, UK: Crown Agents.
IFAS, 2015. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Gainesville, Florida, USA: University of Florida. http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/
IUCN, 2015. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Koyama T, 1985. Cyperaceae. In: Flora of Ceylon, 5 [ed. by Dassanayake, M. D. \Fosberg, F. R.]. New Delhi, India: Amerind Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, 125-405 pp.
Kral R, 2002. Flora of North America North of Mexico, 23. New York, USA: Oxford University Press, 121-131 pp.
NPH, 2015. Native Plants Hawai'i. Hawaii, USA: University of Hawaii. http://nativeplants.hawaii.edu/index/
Rosen DJ; Carter R; Richardson A; King K, 2012. Cyperus albostriatus (Cyperaceae) New to North America and Fimbristylis cymosa (Cyperaceae) New to Texas. J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas, 6:299-302.
The Institute for Regional Conservation, 2015. The floristic inventory of South Florida database online. Delray Beach, Florida, USA: The Institute for Regional Conservation. http://regionalconservation.org/
Tropicos, 2015. Tropicos. Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org
USDA-ARS, 2015. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysearch.aspx
USFWS, 2013. US Fish and Wildlife Service Species Assessment and Listing Priority Assessment Form (Chamaecrista lineata keyensis). Florida, USA: USFWS, 22 pp. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/candidate/assessments/2013/r4/Q0E3_P01.pdf
Waterhouse DF, 1997. The major invertebrate pests and weeds of agriculture and plantation forestry in the southern and western Pacific. Canberra, Australia: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. 93 pp. [ACIAR Monograph No. 44].
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2015. Flora of China., St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2
HEAR, 2012. Alien species in Hawaii. In: Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk, Honolulu, USA: University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/AlienSpeciesInHawaii/index.html
IUCN, 2015. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species., http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Kral R, 2002. Flora of North America North of Mexico., 23 New York, USA: Oxford University Press. 121-131.
Rosen DJ, Carter R, Richardson A, King K, 2012. Cyperus albostriatus (Cyperaceae) New to North America and Fimbristylis cymosa (Cyperaceae) New to Texas. In: J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas, 6 299-302.
ContributorsTop of page
08/06/15 Original text by:
David Rosen, Department of Biology, Lee College, P.O. Box 818, Baytown, TX 77522-0818
Distribution MapsTop of page
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