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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 23 | Cyperaceae

17. KYLLINGA Rottbøll, Descr. Icon. Rar. Pl. 12, plate 4, fig. 3. 1773.

Greenhead sedge, spikesedge [for Peter Kylling, Danish botanist, d. 1696]

Gordon C. Tucker

Cyperus Linnaeus subg. Kyllinga (Rottbøll) J. V. Suringar

Herbs, annual or perennial, cespitose or not, rhizomatous or not. Culms solitary or not, trigonous. Leaves basal; ligules absent; blades flat or V-shaped in cross section. Inflorescences terminal, rarely pseudolateral, spikes 1–4, sessile, densely ovoid or cylindric; spikelets [15–]40–150 per spike, not readily distinguished by unaided eye; involucral bracts 2–4, spreading or erect, leaflike. Spikelets: scales 2(–3), distichous; proximal scale subtending bisexual flower; distal scale empty or subtending 1–2 stamens, often abortive. Flowers bisexual or staminate; perianth absent; stamens 1–3; styles linear, 2-fid, base persistent. Achenes biconvex, laterally compressed.

Species 40–45 (5 in the flora): mostly tropical or warm-temperate regions worldwide.

Tropical Africa contains the greatest diversity of Kyllinga species.

The genus is closely related to Cyperus and has been treated as a subgenus.


Delahoussaye, A. J. and J. W. Thieret. 1967. Cyperus subgenus Kyllinga (Cyperaceae) in the continental United States. Sida 3: 128–136. Padhye, M. D. 1971. Studies in the Cyperaceae. III. Life history of Kyllinga brevifolia Rottb. with a brief discussion on the taxonomic position of Kyllinga. Bot. Gaz. 132: 172–179. Tucker, G. C. 1984. A revision of the genus Kyllinga Rottb. (Cyperaceae) in Mexico and Central America. Rhodora 86: 507–538.

1 Midvein of floral scales winged, laciniate; anthers 2 mm.   4 Kyllinga squamulata
+ Midvein of floral scales not winged, ciliate or glabrous; anthers less than 2 mm.   (2)
2 (1) Plants widely creeping, rhizomatous.   (3)
+ Plants densely cespitose, rhizomatous or not.   (4)
3 (2) Longest bract erect; style 0.6–1.2 mm.   1 Kyllinga brevifolia
+ Longest bract horizontal to slightly reflexed; style 1.8–2.2 mm.   2 Kyllinga gracillima
4 (2) Plants perennial; spikes whitish; achenes with whitish stipitate base.   3 Kyllinga odorata
+ Plants annual; spikes pale greenish; achenes light brown.   5 Kyllinga pumila

Lower Taxa


Related Objects  

Flora of China  
  • Kyllinga (PDF)
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