Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Cyperus compressus
(annual sedge)



Cyperus compressus (annual sedge)


  • Last modified
  • 14 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cyperus compressus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • annual sedge
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae

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a1, Rachilla; a2, spikelet; b1, glume, dorsal view (opened); c, flower; d, nut.
TitleC. compressus - line drawing
Captiona1, Rachilla; a2, spikelet; b1, glume, dorsal view (opened); c, flower; d, nut.
a1, Rachilla; a2, spikelet; b1, glume, dorsal view (opened); c, flower; d, nut.
C. compressus - line drawinga1, Rachilla; a2, spikelet; b1, glume, dorsal view (opened); c, flower; d, nut.SEAMEO-BIOTROP
Intact achene of C. compressus. Cytotype with n=64. Scale bar, 200 µm.
CaptionIntact achene of C. compressus. Cytotype with n=64. Scale bar, 200 µm.
CopyrightS.S. Bir
Intact achene of C. compressus. Cytotype with n=64. Scale bar, 200 µm.
AcheneIntact achene of C. compressus. Cytotype with n=64. Scale bar, 200 µm.S.S. Bir
Surface of C. compressus achenes at stylar shoulder. Cytotype with n=64.
Scale bar, 20 µm.
TitleAchene surface (SEM)
CaptionSurface of C. compressus achenes at stylar shoulder. Cytotype with n=64. Scale bar, 20 µm.
CopyrightS.S. Bir
Surface of C. compressus achenes at stylar shoulder. Cytotype with n=64.
Scale bar, 20 µm.
Achene surface (SEM)Surface of C. compressus achenes at stylar shoulder. Cytotype with n=64. Scale bar, 20 µm.S.S. Bir


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cyperus compressus L. (1753)

Preferred Common Name

  • annual sedge

Other Scientific Names

  • Chlorocyperus compressus Palla
  • Cyperus brachiatus Poir
  • Cyperus humilis Llanos (non Kunth)
  • Cyperus meyenil Nees
  • Cyperus pectiniformis R. & S.

International Common Names

  • English: hedgehog cyperus; sedge
  • French: souchet comprimé

Local Common Names

  • India: mothi
  • Japan: kugugayatsuri
  • Malaysia: rumput tiga sagi

EPPO code

  • CYPCP (Cyperus compressus)
  • CYPHU (Cyperus humilis)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Cyperaceae
  •                             Genus: Cyperus
  •                                 Species: Cyperus compressus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page C. compressus is usually included in the section Cyperus of the wider genus Cyperus, characterized by having 3-fid style and persistent rachilla (axis) of the fruiting spikelet. It has more recently been included by Haines and Lye (1983) in the sub-genus Xerocarpus, on the grounds of the digitate arrangement of its spikelets, but there have been no changes to its name and it is always treated as a Cyperus species, in contrast to species falling into other sections, for example Killynga, which are variably known as Cyperus or Killynga.


Top of page C. compressus is an erect glabrous, caespitose annual (sometimes biannual), 5-75 cm high. Its roots are tufted, fine and numerous. The stems are erect, tufted, slender or rigidulous, glabrous, compressed, trigonous and 0.5-2.0 mm thick. The base is covered with red-purple, usually entire and non-fibrous, loose, open leaf sheaths. The leaves are as long as or shorter than the stem. They are subcoriaceous, flat, 1.5-4.0 mm, broad, greyish-green, narrowly linear and taper gradually to a fine acuminate apex.

The inflorescence has umbellate spikes, some of the rays (usually 3-4) are well developed and up to 8 cm long. Occasionally, all the spikelets are grouped as a sessile umbel. There are usually three or four leaf-like, unequal brackets which are longer than or as long as the primary rays of the umbel. The spikelets are strongly compressed laterally and there are 4-7 in each ultimate condensed umbellate spike. These are 1.5-3.5 cm long, 3-5 mm wide and grey-green, streaked with crimson. The rachis or rachilla are very much flattened and with hyaline wings (in fresh specimens). The two or three lowest glumes are small, hyaline and empty. The flowering glumes are broadly ovate when spread out, tightly imbricating, 3.0-4.5 mm long, mucronate, pale yellowish or brownish, several-nerved, broadly scariously margined, mucro-stout and sometimes excurved. There are three stamens with anthers 0.7 mm long which have an ovate-rotundate, reddish crest. The style is long with branches 3-4 mm long, divided about halfway down. The nuts are shortly stipitate, obovioid, broadly triquetrous, 1.5-1.7 mm long with three prominent angles and three concave sides. They are dark brown or blackish-brown, apiculate and glossy.

C. compressus flowers and fruits during May to December in eastern India and during July to October in North West India.

C. compressus exhibits morphometric and chromosomal variation (Mehra and Sachdeva, 1971; Sanyal, 1972; Rath and Ratnaik, 1978; Bir et al., 1982, 1988, 1992; Cheema, 1991; Cheema and Bir, 1996).


Top of page C. compressus has very wide distribution in all warm countries of the world except Australia (Clarke, 1894; Riley, 1925; Kern, 1974; Rao and Verma, 1982). It grows in tropical Africa, Asia and the USA (Bhandari, 1978).

The distribution map includes records based on specimens of C. compressus from the collections in the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh, India (DD) and the Botanical Survey of India, Northern Circle, Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh, India (BSD).

Distribution Table

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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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


BhutanPresentNoltie, 1994
Brunei DarussalamPresentWaterhouse, 1993
CambodiaPresentHolm et al., 1979; Waterhouse, 1993
ChinaPresentHerbarium, DD; Holm et al., 1979
-TibetPresentCai et al., 2005
IndiaWidespreadClarke, 1894; Holm et al., 1979
-Andhra PradeshPresentClarke, 1894
-Arunachal PradeshPresentRao and Verma, 1982
-AssamPresentRao and Verma, 1982
-BiharPresentClarke, 1894
-ChandigarhPresentDuthie, 1960
-Dadra and Nagar HaveliPresentDuthie, 1960
-DelhiPresentDuthie, 1960
-GoaPresentDuthie, 1960
-GujaratPresentHerbarium, DD
-HaryanaPresentClarke, 1894; Duthie, 1960
-Himachal PradeshWidespreadCollet, 1971; Herbarium, DD
-Indian PunjabWidespreadSharma and Bir, 1978; Meenakshi and Sharma, 1985
-Jammu and KashmirPresentHerbarium, DD
-KarnatakaPresentRamaswamy and Razi, 1973
-KeralaWidespreadRama, 1914
-Madhya PradeshPresentSinghai, 1954
-MaharashtraWidespreadHerbarium, DD; Cook, 1908
-MeghalayaPresentRao and Verma, 1982
-MizoramPresentClarke, 1894
-NagalandPresentClarke, 1894; Cook, 1908
-OdishaWidespreadHaines, 1924; Herbarium, DD
-RajasthanWidespreadBhandari, 1978; Sharma and Tiagi, 1979
-SikkimPresentClarke, 1894; Cook, 1908
-Tamil NaduWidespreadFischer, 1957; Matthew, 1981
-TripuraWidespreadClarke, 1894
-Uttar PradeshWidespreadHerbarium, DD; Duthie, 1960
-West BengalWidespreadBennet, 1979
IndonesiaPresentHolm et al., 1979; Waterhouse, 1993
-JavaPresentBacker & Bakhuizen van den Brink, 1968
JapanPresentHolm et al., 1979
LaosPresentWaterhouse, 1993
MalaysiaWidespreadHerbarium, DD; Ridley, 1925; Waterhouse, 1993
MyanmarPresentHerbarium, DD; Waterhouse, 1993
NepalPresentDangol, 2001
PakistanWidespreadAhmad, 1954
PhilippinesWidespreadKern, 1974; Waterhouse, 1993
SingaporePresentWaterhouse, 1993
Sri LankaPresentCook, 1908
TaiwanWidespreadHolm et al., 1979
ThailandPresentWaterhouse, 1993
VietnamPresentHolm et al., 1979; Waterhouse, 1993


BeninPresentHolm et al., 1979
BotswanaPresentHolm et al., 1979
Côte d'IvoirePresentHooper and Napper, 1972
EgyptPresentHolm et al., 1979
GhanaPresentHooper and Napper, 1972
GuineaPresentHooper and Napper, 1972
KenyaPresentHaines and Lye, 1983
LiberiaPresentHooper and Napper, 1972
MauritiusPresentHolm et al., 1979
MozambiquePresentHolm et al., 1979
NigeriaPresentHooper and Napper, 1972
SenegalPresentHooper and Napper, 1972
Sierra LeonePresentHooper and Napper, 1972
SudanPresentHolm et al., 1979
TanzaniaPresentHaines and Lye, 1983
TogoPresentHooper and Napper, 1972
ZimbabwePresentHolm et al., 1979

North America

USAWidespreadBoissier, 1884; Cook, 1908
-HawaiiPresentSt. John, 1973
-KentuckyPresentMears and Libby, 1995
-LouisianaPresentBollich et al., 2002
-North CarolinaPresentHerbarium, DD

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentHolm et al., 1979
HondurasWidespreadHolm et al., 1979

South America

SurinamePresentHolm et al., 1979


FijiPresentHolm et al., 1979
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentHolm et al., 1979
Papua New GuineaPresentHolm et al., 1979


Top of page C. compressus is a pantropical species, growing well during summer and rainy months in a variety of moist places, irrigated fields, along water channels, ditches, stream banks, pond margins, damp grassy lawns, etc. It occurs on sandy, alluvial and clay soils, occasionally up to 1200 m in Sri Lanka (Collett, 1971).

Habitat List

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Biology and Ecology

Top of page C. compressus is an annual weed of waste places and rice fields, often growing in medium-to-large patches. It propagates through seeds and very rarely through rhizome fragmentation. C. compressus flowers and fruits during May to December in eastern India, and during July to October in North West India.

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page C. compressus is a host to a number of fungi (Bilgrami et al., 1979, 1981, 1991). The following pathogens have been recorded on C. compressus in India. In Habbel, Mysore and Karnataka, Cintractia minor affected the inflorescence of C. compressus (Mundkur and Thirumalachar, 1952). Ramachar et al. (1978) reported the incidence of Puccinia cyperi-tegatiformis on the leaves of C. compressus in Rathjendra Nagar, Hydrabad and Andhra Pradesh. Incidence of Puccinia romagnoliana on the leaves of C. compressus was recorded by Sydow and Butler (1901). Physoderma schroeteri was reported causing leaf spots on living leaves of C. compressus from Banaras, Uttar Pradesh by Pavgi and Thirumalachar (1954). Piricularia higginsii var. poonensis was recorded as infecting the leaves of C. compressus in Poona, Karnataka by Thirumslachar et al. (1956). This fungus also infected the rice plant. All these diseases occur during the rainy months.


Top of page C. compressus is a very prominent weed of rice in India (throughout the northern plains), Pakistan, Bangladesh and throughout South-East Asian countries. It also grows in fields with young crops of maize and sugarcane.

In the Punjab District, India, the rice crop has become second only to wheat in economic terms. In Patiala District, Bir and Sidhu (1974) made extensive observations on the distribution, frequency and lifespan of weeds in rice fields. They concluded that C. compressus, which grows along the rice field margins as well as within the fields themselves, attains 80% frequency of occurrence along with nine other weed species. The distribution pattern and density of C. compressus was such that it started appearing 20 days after the rice was planted and maximum numbers of C. compressus were found between 20-40 days, when rice plants were in the early stages of growth and had not formed full tillers. Maximum competition to rice crop by weeds was offered during the 40-day growth period. During the first 20-30 days of planting, five weed plants were seen per unit area of the field. This declined to four plants per unit area after 40-50 days and three plants per unit area from 50-90 days. C. compressus was amongst six chief weeds which affected the yield of rice in Patiala District: the others are C. bulbosus, C. iria, Echinochloa colonum, E. crus-galli and Eragrostis diarrhena. These weeds together constituted 80-90% of the weed population in the majority of the rice fields in the surveyed area.

As C. compressus is rarely, if ever, the only weed in a crop, there is no information on its direct effect on crop yield, but it is assumed that there must be competition for nutrients which contributes to the total damage caused by weeds. There is also some possibility of damage caused by pests and diseases for which C. compressus is an alternative host (see Natural Enemies).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page The genus Cyperus in the broader sense has about 650 species, while the section Cyperus, to which C. compressus belongs, has at least 300. It is therefore inevitable that there will be some difficulties in identifying C. compressus with certainty, especially as the great majority of species have a superficially similar appearance. Key characteristics of the species which are of greatest help include the tufted annual habit, large, flattened green and reddish-brown spikelets in almost strictly digitate arrangement and three stigmas and triangular nutlet.

Many species in the section Pycreus (often known as the Pycreus species) such as C. macrostaachyos (Pycreus macrostachyos) and C. polystachyos (P. polystachyos) have the annual habit and comparably flattened spikelets and look rather similar, but they only have two stigmas, flattened nutlets and the spikelets are arranged in spikes rather than digitately. C. mundtii (P. mundtii) has similar-looking spikelets but is a rhizomatous perennial.

Within the section Cyperus, confusion is possible with C. sphaelatus which has s similar habit and appearance, but the spikelets are narrower (up to 2.5 mm wide only, versus 3-5 mm in C. compressus). C. procerus has spikelets up to 3.5 mm wide but this is a perennial with stolons.

Prevention and Control

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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.

Cultural Control

Control of weed plants of C. compressus in rice fields is not difficult. During the mulching and puddling operations to prepare clean fields before transplanting rice, all the weeds should be uprooted and destroyed. Standing water in rice fields keeps down C. compressus to a great extent. It is only when the rice field dries up due to rain failure or non-availability of irrigation water, that the weeds start coming up. Farmers can use agricultural machinery or hand weeding to remove C. compressus.

Integrated Pest Management

In rice, the usual practices recommended are a combination of transplantation spacing (tall varieties placed far apart rather than dwarf varieties), hand weeding and chemical controls.

Chemical Control

There are few specific herbicides used for control of C. compressus in rice, but those controlling other sedge weeds may be used (Moody, 1982; Ampong-Nyarko and De Datta, 1991). In perennial crops in Malaysia, methylarsonic acid plus 2,4-D has been used (Kostermans et al., 1987).


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Ampong-Nyarko K; Datta SK de, 1991. Handbook for weed control in rice. Manila, Philippines: International Rice Research Institute.

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Distribution Maps

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