Cyperus esculentus (yellow nutsedge)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Cyperus esculentus L.
Preferred Common Name
- yellow nutsedge
Other Scientific Names
- Chlorocyperus aureus (K.Richt.) Palla ex Kneuck.
- Chlorocyperus phymatodes (Muhl.) Palla
- Cyperus bahiensis Steud.
- Cyperus buchananii Boeckeler
- Cyperus callistus Ridl.
- Cyperus chrysostachys Boeckeler
- Cyperus cubensis Steud.
- Cyperus damiettensis A.Dietr.
- Cyperus fulvescens Liebm.
- Cyperus gracilescens Roem. & Schult.
- Cyperus gracilescens Schult.
- Cyperus heermannii Buckley
- Cyperus helodes Schrad. ex Nees
- Cyperus lutescens Torr. & Hook.
- Cyperus melanorhizus Delile
- Cyperus nervosus Bertol.
- Cyperus officinalis T.Nees
- Cyperus phymatodes Muhl.
- Cyperus repens Elliott
- Cyperus ruficomus Buckley
- Cyperus sieberianus Link
- Cyperus tenoreanus Schult.
- Cyperus tenorei C.Presl
- Cyperus tenorianus Roem. & Schult.
- Cyperus tuberosus Pursh
- Cyperus variabilis Salzm. ex Steud.
- Pterocyperus esculentus (L.) Opiz
- Pycreus esculentus (L.) Hayek
International Common Names
- English: rush nut; tiger nut; yellow nut-grass; yellow nut-sedge; yellow sedge
- Spanish: chufa comun; horchata; horchata de chufa
- French: amande de terre; souchet comestible; souchet sucré; souchet tubéreux
- Chinese: xiang fu zi
- Portuguese: junquinha mansa
Local Common Names
- Angola: olonguesso
- Argentina: chufa
- Brazil: chufa; junquinho; tiririca; tiririca-amarela
- Colombia: conquito
- Cuba: chufa
- Dominican Republic: coquillo; coquito
- Germany: erdmandelgas; Essbaress zypergras
- Iran: galee
- Italy: cipero dolce; dolcichino; ulvia di padule; zigolo dolce; zizzola terrestri
- Japan: syokuyo-gayatsuri
- Mexico: cebollin; coquillo amarillo; cotufa; coyolillo; coyolito; peonia; tule; tulillo; zacate de agua
- Netherlands: aard-amandel; knolcypergras
- Peru: coco
- Puerto Rico: chapas
- South Africa: geeliuintjie
- Thailand: haeo-thai
- CYPES (Cyperus esculentus)
- CYPTU (Cyperus tuberosus)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
C. esculentus is listed in the USDA Plants-database as a noxious weed in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington (USDA-NRCS, 2012). It is included in the California Invasive Plant List (2004) as a 'threat to wildlands'. Terry (2001) has revised the Cyperaceae with reference to its status in the list of 'worst weeds'.
C. esculentus behaves as a weed in almost all temperate, tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Once established, it is extremely difficult to eradicate because plants have a stratified and layered root system, with tubers and roots being interconnected. The plant can quickly regenerate if a single tuber is left in place. In its competition for light, water and nutrients it can reduce crop yields and outcompetes native plant species when it grows as an environmental weed. C. esculentus also has the potential to grow forming dense colonies which can increase by more than 1m/year. The invasiveness of this species is also high due to its great dispersal capacity. Tubers and seeds can be easily dispersed through agricultural activities, soil movement, by water and wind, and very often as contaminants in crop seeds (Holm et al., 1977; Defelice, 2002; Dodet et al., 2008).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Cyperaceae
- Genus: Cyperus
- Species: Cyperus esculentus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
C. esculentus var. sativus is 'chufa', which is cultivated widely for its edible tubers and other uses, and var. aureus is the wild, weedy type. The wild type is divided into two varieties: var. esculentus occurring in southern Europe, Africa and some locations in North and South America; and var. leptostachyus occurring throughout North and South America (Kukenthal, 1956). Although the cultivated chufa and the weedy yellow nutsedges are different in behaviour and aspect, their similarity and history do not provide any taxonomic grounds for separating these two groups (De Vries, 1991). Frequent references may be found to ecotypes of the species, but no systematic classification of them has been made (Holm et al., 1977).
DescriptionTop of page Erect perennial herb; culms simple with triangular section, growing from perennial, tuber-bearing rhizomes; leaves in three ranks, mostly basal; inflorescence in terminal umbels; umbel subtended by unequal leaf-like brackets varying from 5 to 25 cm long; spikelets yellowish-brown or straw-coloured, 1-3 cm long, of several flowers, flattened, two-ranked; stamens three; style three-cleft; achenes (fruit) three-angled, narrowing gradually from a square-shouldered apex towards the base, about 1.5 mm long, covered with very fine granulation (Holm et al., 1977). It propagates by rhizomes, basal bulbs and tubers.
This light-bright green perennial sedge grows to about 0.8 m in height. A basal bulb is formed by a swelling of the culm below the soil surface and rhizomes grow out from this basal bulb to terminate in new shoots (under long days over 14 hours long) or underground tubers (under shorter days, less than 14 hours).
Plant TypeTop of page Grass / sedge
DistributionTop of page
The origin of C. esculentus is uncertain. For some authors, C. esculentus is native to the Old World (mostly to areas in Africa and tropical Asia; Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; DAISIE, 2014). However, other authors consider that it is native to tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America (Govaerts, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). Currently, C. esculentus occurs on all continents and from the equator to as far north as Alaska (Holm et al., 1977). Although present and sometimes troublesome in the tropics, it is most problematic in subtropical areas where longer days allow extensive spread of the plant by stolons before tubers are formed.
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: 23 Apr 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Angola||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Burkina Faso||Present||Govaerts (2014)|
|Cabo Verde||Present||Govaerts (2014)|
|Cameroon||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Central African Republic||Present||Govaerts (2014)|
|Congo, Democratic Republic of the||Present||Govaerts (2014)|
|Congo, Republic of the||Present||Govaerts (2014)||Agricultural weed|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Present||Govaerts (2014)||Cultivated|
|Egypt||Present||Native||Tackholm (1974); Govaerts (2014)|
|Equatorial Guinea||Present||Govaerts (2014)|
|Ethiopia||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Ghana||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Guinea||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Kenya||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Madagascar||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Malawi||Present||Terry and Michieka (1987)|
|Mali||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Mauritania||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Mozambique||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979)|
|Nigeria||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)||Cultivated. Also listed as a weed|
|Rwanda||Present||Govaerts (2014)||Agricultural weed|
|Saint Helena||Present||Introduced||USDA-ARS (2014)|
|Senegal||Present||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Sierra Leone||Present||Govaerts (2014)|
|South Africa||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979)|
|Tanzania||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Uganda||Present, Widespread||Terry and Michieka (1987); Govaerts (2014)|
|Zambia||Present||Introduced||Holm et al. (1977); Terry and Michieka (1987)||Agricultural weed|
|Zimbabwe||Present||Introduced||Holm et al. (1977)||Agricultural weed|
|Cambodia||Present||Introduced||Govaerts (2014); Holm et al. (1979)|
|China||Present||Introduced||Naturalized||Jiang Hua et al. (2011)||Naturalized|
|Georgia||Present||EPPO (2020); Kikodze et al. (2010)|
|India||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Indonesia||Present||Holm et al. (1979)|
|Iran||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014)|
|Japan||Present||Introduced||Naturalized||Mito and Uesugi (2004)||Naturalized|
|-Honshu||Present||Konnai et al. (1990)|
|-Kyushu||Present||Morita and Nakayama (1992)|
|Nepal||Present||Govaerts (2014)||Agricultural weed|
|Taiwan||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Jiang Hua et al. (2011); Holm et al. (1979)|
|Turkey||Present||EPPO (2020); Govaerts (2014)|
|Albania||Present||EPPO (2020); Govaerts (2014)|
|Austria||Present, Localized||EPPO (2020); Govaerts (2014)|
|Belgium||Present||EPPO (2020); DAISIE (2014)|
|Bulgaria||Present||EPPO (2020); Govaerts (2014)|
|Croatia||Present||EPPO (2020); DAISIE (2014)|
|France||Present||Holm et al. (1979); EPPO (2020); CABI (Undated);|
|-Corsica||Present||EPPO (2020); DAISIE (2014)|
|Germany||Present||EPPO (2020); DAISIE (2014)|
|Greece||Present||EPPO (2020); DAISIE (2014)|
|Hungary||Present||Dancza et al. (2004); DAISIE (2014); EPPO (2020)|
|Italy||Present, Localized||Costalonga and Pavan (2001); DAISIE (2014); EPPO (2020)|
|Netherlands||Present||EPPO (2020); DAISIE (2014)|
|Poland||Present, Localized||Milczak et al. (2001)|
|Portugal||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); Govaerts (2014); EPPO (2020)|
|-Azores||Present||EPPO (2020); DAISIE (2014)|
|Romania||Present||Introduced||DAISIE (2014)||Casual alien|
|Spain||Present, Localized||CABI (Undated); EPPO (2020)||Original citation: Pascual Espana et al., 2000|
|-Balearic Islands||Present||EPPO (2020)|
|Switzerland||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979); DAISIE (2014); EPPO (2020)|
|Ukraine||Present||EPPO (2020); Govaerts (2014)|
|Aruba||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|Bahamas||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|Belize||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994)|
|Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba|
|-Bonaire||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)||Anegada|
|Canada||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979)|
|-British Columbia||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-New Brunswick||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2004); Mulligan and Junkins (1976)|
|-Nova Scotia||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2014); Mulligan and Junkins (1976)|
|-Ontario||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2014); Mulligan and Junkins (1976)|
|-Quebec||Present||Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2014); Mulligan and Junkins (1976)|
|Cuba||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Oviedo Prieto et al. (2012); Holm et al. (1979)|
|Curaçao||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|Dominican Republic||Present||Introduced||Invasive||IABIN (2008)|
|El Salvador||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994)|
|Guatemala||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994)|
|Haiti||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|Honduras||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994)|
|Jamaica||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|Martinique||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Broome et al. (2007)|
|Mexico||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia (2004); Holm et al. (1979)|
|Nicaragua||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994); Holm et al. (1979)|
|Panama||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994)|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012); Holm et al. (1979)|
|Saint Lucia||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Broome et al. (2007)|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Introduced||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)||St Thomas|
|United States||Present||CABI (Undated a)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Alabama||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Alaska||Present||Holm et al. (1979)|
|-Arizona||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Arkansas||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-California||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Colorado||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Connecticut||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Delaware||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-District of Columbia||Present||Native and Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2014)||Areas with native and introduced infra-taxa|
|-Florida||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Georgia||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Hawaii||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Wagner et al. (1999); Holm et al. (1979)||Noxious weed|
|-Idaho||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Illinois||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); CABI (Undated)|
|-Indiana||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Iowa||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Kansas||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Kentucky||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Louisiana||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Maine||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Maryland||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Massachusetts||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Michigan||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Minnesota||Present||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Mississippi||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Missouri||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Montana||Absent, Intercepted only||USDA-NRCS (2004)|
|-Nebraska||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Nevada||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-New Hampshire||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-New Jersey||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-New Mexico||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-New York||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-North Carolina||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-North Dakota||Present||Native and Introduced||USDA-NRCS (2014)||Areas with native and introduced infra-taxa|
|-Ohio||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Oklahoma||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Oregon||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Pennsylvania||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Rhode Island||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-South Carolina||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-South Dakota||Present||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Tennessee||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Texas||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Utah||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Vermont||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Virginia||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Washington||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-West Virginia||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Wisconsin||Present, Widespread||Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987); USDA-NRCS (2014)|
|-Wyoming||Absent, Intercepted only||USDA-NRCS (2004)|
|Australia||Present, Widespread||Holm et al. (1979)|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Invasive||USDA-ARS (2014)||Weed|
|-Queensland||Present||Introduced||Invasive||USDA-ARS (2014); Auld and Medd (1987)||Weed|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||Invasive||USDA-ARS (2014)|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Introduced||Govaerts (2014)|
|Argentina||Present||Introduced||Zuloaga et al. (2008); Holm et al. (1979)||Casual alien|
|Brazil||Present||CABI (Undated a)||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Parana||Present||Introduced||Zuloaga et al. (2008)|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present||Introduced||Zuloaga et al. (2008)|
|-Santa Catarina||Present||Introduced||Zuloaga et al. (2008)|
|Chile||Present||Introduced||Naturalized||Sánchez-Zapata et al. (2012)||Cultivated and naturalized: also a weed|
|Colombia||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994); Holm et al. (1979)||Weed|
|Ecuador||Present||Introduced||Davidse et al. (1994)|
|Peru||Present||Introduced||Sánchez-Zapata et al. (2012); Holm et al. (1979)||Weed and cultivated|
|Venezuela||Present||Holm et al. (1979); USDA-ARS (2014)|
HabitatTop of page
C. esculentus is found on low ground, in wet fields, in heavily irrigated crops, along river banks and roadsides, and in ditches. It tolerates high soil moisture much better than C. rotundus. It grows very well on all soil types including black peat soils and performs equally well at pH 5 to 7 (Holm et al., 1977). It can establish in cooler climatic conditions than C. rotundus. Stoller and Wax (1973) reported that 50% of tubers were killed at -6.5°C and that tubers were able to survive in areas of low air and soil temperatures.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Present, no further details|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details|
|Wetlands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Cold lands / tundra||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Deserts||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Coastal areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Fragaria ananassa (strawberry)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Glycine max (soyabean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Manihot esculenta (cassava)||Euphorbiaceae||Main|
|Oryza sativa (rice)||Poaceae||Main|
|Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Main|
|Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Solanum tuberosum (potato)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)||Poaceae||Main|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Main|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The basal bulb and tubers are the organs for vegetative propagation of C. esculentus, as well as the short-lived rhizomes, which extend for 5-30 cm, or sometimes further, before turning up and forming a further shoot and basal bulb, or a dormant tuber. The rhizomes occasionally branch, but have no viable buds at their nodes, and they decay at the end of the growing season. The number of rhiozomes is unaffected by photoperiod but tuber formation is promoted in short photoperiods (Holm et al., 1977). In the southern USA, only new shoots and basal bulbs are formed at daylengths over 14 hours, whereas all rhizomes terminate in tubers as soon as days are shorter than 14 hours (Jansen, 1971).
According to Coskuner et al. (2002), C. esculentus tubers contain on average 932.8 g/kg dry matter, 245.0 g/kg crude lipid, 256.8 g/kg starch, 14.3 g/kg ash, 50.5 g/kg protein, 89.1 g/kg crude fibre, 17.1 g/kg reducing sugar, 154.3 g/kg total sugar and 130.4 g/kg sucrose. Individual tuber weight ranges from 0.224 to 0.283 g. The fatty acid composition of the tuber oil includes 689.2-732.9 g/kg oleic acid, 125.5-141.2 g/kg palmitic acid and 99.6-154.6 g/kg linoleic acid, which is comparable to that of olive oil. Oil composition may be affected by storage.
Temperature is crucial to the successful establishment of C. esculentus (Li et al., 2000). The percentage of bud sprouting increases with increasing temperature within the range 12 to 38°C; no sprouting occurs at 10°C, and few tubers sprout at 42°C. The rate of sprouting also increases with temperature up to 35°C. A base temperature of 11.4°C was determined for bud-sprouting of C. esculentus tubers. Higher temperatures may lead to larger sprouts and greater survival rate. In particular, increased temperature favours root growth and causes a high root:shoot ratio of the sprouts. Larger tubers produce larger sprouts as a consequence of mobilizing a greater amount of their reserves. The efficiency of reserve utilization differs significantly with incubation temperature, and the relationship with temperature follows a quadratic pattern.
The longevity of tubers increases with tuber weight, and removing plants from the tubers at 2-week intervals allowed all buds present to sprout (Thullen and Keeley, 1975). Under a photoperiod of 12-14 hours, inflorescences appear on shoots, and large quantities of good seeds are produced under favourable growing conditions.
Seed is an important means of dispersal of C. esculentus (Holm et al., 1977). The seeds are normally dormant when shed but lose their dormancy with moist storage at 10°C. Germination is enhanced by alternating temperatures of 20 to 30°C. Seedlings emerge readily from a depth of 1.3 cm depth but more slowly from 2.5 cm (Holm et al., 1977).
C. esculentus is an exotic clonal weed in Japan (Li et al., 2001) and is steadily increasing its range. Five clones of C. esculentus, which showed considerable variation, were studied to investigate interclonal variation and phenotypic plasticity in response to water availability. Water availability could partially regulate the mode of reproduction; wet conditions favour tuber production (vegetative propagation) whereas dry conditions favour sexual reproduction. A number of trade-offs occur between the traits of clonal growth, storage and sexual reproduction, indicating that allocation among the competing functions/organs is mutually exclusive in plants. The results suggest that C. esculentus is more likely to invade wet habitats than dry habitats.
Once formed, the tubers are dormant and behave almost like seeds in being tolerant of frost and desiccation (unlike those of Cyperus rotundus). Storage at low temperatures such as 3-10°C breaks tuber dormancy (Holm et al., 1977).
Natural enemiesTop of page
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The rust fungus, Puccinia canaliculata, has potential for control of C. esculentus; release of the pathogen on C. esculentus early in the spring reduced its density, tuber formation and flowering (Phatak et al., 1987). In the USA, P. canaliculata was developed as a mycoherbicide in rice (Phatak, 1992); further research is needed on the integrated application of the mycoherbicide with registered chemical herbicides (Smith, 1994). The insect Bactra verutana attacks newly emerging plants of C. esculentus to suppress the growth of the weed (Keeley et al., 1970). Chorizococcus rostellum attacked leaves and roots of C. esculentus in southern California, USA (Poinar, 1964). Dactylaria higginsiii has been investigated as a mycoherbicide against both C. esculentus and C. rotundus (Shabana et al., 2010). Morales-Payan et al. (2005) review biological enemies of the nutsedges for biocontrol potential, with a focus on fungi.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Seed is an important means of dispersal of C. esculentus (Holm et al., 1977).
Pathway VectorsTop of page
|Soil, sand and gravel||Yes|
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
|True seeds (inc. grain)||Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Timber type||Used as packing|
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
C. esculentus is a serious or principal weed of sugarcane in Hawaii, Peru, South Africa and Swaziland; of maize in Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and USA; of cotton in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and USA; of soyabeans in Canada and USA; of potatoes in Canada, South Africa and USA; of coffee in Kenya; of cereals in Angola and Tanzania; of vegetables in Mozambique and USA; of groundnuts and sugarbeet in USA; of pineapples in Swaziland; and of sisal in Tanzania (Holm et al., 1977).
In a study on the effect of C. esculentus on fruit weight of polyethylene-mulched bell pepper, Motis et al. (2001) found that pepper plants were intolerant of nutsedge planted 30.5 cm from the plant, for which total yield loss was 65% or greater.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts tourism
- Reduced amenity values
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Pest and disease transmission
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
In Spain, when tubers of 'tiger nuts' are washed and crushed in water, the filtered white, milky-pepper tasting product is called 'horchata'. This beverage may be drunk cool in hot summers. It is commercially produced by a farmers' cooperative in Valencia (Pascual España, 2002).
Yin-Hua (2003) investigated the processing of C. esculentus pulp to make a beverage. Lee SungKyu et al. (2002) determined the nutritive value of C. esculentus as a forage resource. Milczak et al. (2001) established the nutritious value of C. esculentus in the Lublin region of Poland.
Uses ListTop of page
Human food and beverage
- Beverage base
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Cyperus rotundus, C. longus and C. blysmoides resemble C. esculentus morphologically, especially in forming rhizomes and tubers.
Confusion commonly occurs with C. esculentus and C. rotundus, because in certain areas their niches appear to overlap. In C. esculentus the tubers are almost round and pale coloured; they have a pleasant, mild, nutty flavour and are attached to the plant by a rather soft, easily broken rhizome. In C. rotundus, however, they are elongated and very dark in colour, have a very unpleasant resinous flavour and are attached to the plant (and to other tubers) by a tough, wiry rhizome. In addition, the leaf tips of C. esculentus are acuminate, coming gradually to a long, acute tip, whereas those of C. rotundus come quite abruptly to an acute tip. In the field, C. esculentus appears as a more robust, taller and lighter green plant than C. rotundus. At flowering, the achenes of C. esculentus are bright yellow, whereas those of C. rotundus are dark brown.
C. longus does not produce true tubers and the basal part of the stem and the apex of the woody rhizome are swollen as the pseudotuber. C. blysmoides is mainly distributed in Africa; it produces almost spherical, 2-6-mm diameter, black, tuber-like bulbs and has no leafy bracts at the base of the small, dark inflorescence.
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.
Tillage has little effect on C. esculentus when tubers are dormant during the off-season: the tubers are then less susceptible to desiccation than those of C. rotundus. Conversely, when the tubers have sprouted, and before new stolons and tubers are formed, C. esculentus is much more susceptible than C. rotundus to disturbance and desiccation by tillage. Hence in the USA, pre-sowing cultivations before late sowing of soyabean can cause useful reductions (Wax et al., 1972), and inter-row cultivation in maize, etc. can also be effective at an early growth stage when the reserves of the parent tuber are newly depleted. Wax et al. (1972) emphasize the value of shading from the crop in the suppression of C. esculentus. Improved drainage and crop rotation are other techniques mentioned by Lorenzi and Jeffery (1987).
Cultural, Mechanical and Physical Control
Alternative treatments to methyl bromide [a banned chemical] for strawberry have been investigated by Locascio et al. (1999), who found that napropamide, soil solarization treatments and black polyethylene mulches allowed similar plant growth and yields when tested at three locations in Florida, USA.
Johnson and Mullinix (2002) studied weed management techniques in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) and cantaloupe (Cucumis melo) transplanted on polyethylene-covered seedbeds in Georgia, USA. Herbicide systems that included halosulfuron or glyphosate applied post-shielding improved control of C. esculentus compared with ethalfluralin alone.
Kadir and Charudattan (2000) investigated the potential of the fungus Dactylaria higginsii against C. rotundus and C. esculentus in greenhouse and laboratory trials, and found that the fungus was highly pathogenic against these weeds, without causing ill-effects on crop plants or weedy grasses also tested. Shabana et al. (2010) found that conidia of this fungus were virulent against both nutsedge species, but that C. rotundus was the most susceptible. A range of potential biocontrol agents are reviewed by Morales-Payan et al. (2005).
Like C. rotundus, C. esculentus is susceptible to the thiocarbamate group of herbicides (EPTC, vernolate, pebulate, butylate) which may be used to delay emergence in maize and a wide range of broad-leaved crops (Lorenzi and Jeffery, 1987), although tubers are rarely killed completely and the need for pre-plant incorporation limits their usefulness on less mechanized farms. Fortunately, C. esculentus is more susceptible than C. rotundus to the acetanilide herbicides alachlor and metolachlor (Riley and Smith, 1974). These may be used as pre-emergence treatments, although their best performance is dependent on good soil moisture and, under drier conditions, pre-plant incorporation is preferred (Grichar et al., 1996).
Cyperus esculentus var. esculentus is less susceptible than C. esculentus var. leptostachyus to pre-plant applications of atrazine or metribuzin (Costa and Appleby, 1976), but neither form is reliably controlled by pre-emergence treatment with these herbicides. Atrazine gives some control when used as an early post-emergence treatment with added oil, but results are mediocre and there is some risk of affecting maize yield (Ferron, 1974).
Glyphosate is effective in plantation crops. In the Netherlands, it is also used as a directed spot treatment in maize in attempts at eradication following metolachlor pre-planting and a mixture of metolachlor and atrazine post-emergence (Rotteveel et al., 1993).
With the exception of halosulforon, the sulfonylurea herbicide group has not generally been effective, though it has been noted that tuber development was adversely affected by increasing concentrations of pyrazosulfuron (Ogasawara et al., 1995). Field experiments to evaluate halosulfuron and glyphosate for C. esculentus control in glyphosate-resistant field maize (Fischer and Harvey, 2002) demonstrated that single applications of glyphosate provided <75% control of C. esculentus but sequential applications of glyphosate provided 85% or greater control.
Nelson and Renner (2002) determined the effects of glufosinate, glyphosate and glyphosate plus additional adjuvant on C. esculentus control and tuber production. Glyphosate reduced the dry weight of C. esculentus by 64%, whereas glufosinate reduced dry weight by only 22% when averaged over diammonium sulfate and spray volume. In the field, glufosinate and glyphosate controlled C. esculentus by 19-53%. Glyphosate reduced tuber density (51%), tuber fresh weight (59%) and tuber sprouting (17%) 42 weeks after treatment in the field. The addition of nonionic surfactant, methylated seed oil, or crop oil concentrate to glyphosate plus diammonium sulfate did not increase control of C. esculentus.
In high-value situations, soil fumigants may be used. Eitel (1995) notes that dazomet performs better with plastic sheeting than with irrigation only.
Unruh et al. (2002) evaluated fumigant alternatives for methyl bromide prior to turfgrass establishment. They found that metam-sodium plus several herbicide combinations gave acceptable control.
The addition of atrazine to mesotrione improved control of C. esculentus in maize (Johnson et al., 2002).
Hoss et al. (2003) conducted experiments to determine the efficacy, absorption and translocation of glyphosate, glufosinate and imazethapyr in selected weed species. The rate of glufosinate injured C. esculentus more than other weeds. The differential response of these weed species may be caused by differences in herbicide translocation.
Sulfentrazone followed by glyphosate increased control of C. esculentus (Krausz and Young, 2003).
Tuber sprouting was reduced to 19% in plots treated with halosulfuron and pyrithiobac compared with C. esculentus (Nelson and Renner, 2002).
Locascio et al. (2001) found that the addition of chloropicrin to metam-sodium generally did not significantly increase the performance of the herbicide in weed control, pest control and enhanced tomato fruit production compared to treatments with metam-sodium without chloropicrin.
The effects of several crop rotations and herbicide programmes on populations of several grasses and on C. rotundus were studied by Manley et al. (2002). Grass and yellow nutsedge densities were generally affected by an interaction between crop rotations and herbicide programmes.
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
22/04/14 Updated by:
Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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