This leafy sedge might be noticed as a large colony of medium-height grasses growing in water, with spherical inflorescences only somewhat visible among the many leaves. It is a major duck food.
Burhead sedge. Oxycaryum cubense (syn. Scirpus cubensis).
Here is an example of a smaller, leafy Scirpus species. Burhead sedge spreads by small, reddish runners (or rhizomes) and can cover small areas. It is common in freshwater marshes of north and central Florida. Burhead sedge is quite different from southern bulrush and soft-stem bulrush. This bulrush grows only 1-1/2 to 3 feet tall. Its stems are sharply triangular and smooth. Burhead sedge is very leafy, while other common Florida bulrushes have no leaves at all. Its leaves all grow from the base of the plant. They are narrow and ribbon-like; about 1/4-inch wide and 3 to 4 feet long. Many of the leaves are longer than the stem. Like all Scirpus species, the inflorescence is at the tip of the stem. The distinctive feature of this inflorescence is the long leaf-like bracts that spread around the base of the inflorescence. The inflorescence itself is umble-like, meaning that its stalks arise more or less from the same place. Each stalk is topped by a dense, spherical head, about ¾-inch diameter. These heads of burhead sedge contain many spikelets. The reddish-brown spikelets have scales that are spiral and overlapping. The fruit is an olive nutlet about 1/8-inch long. Burhead sedge can be confused with plants of the genus Cyperus. The best difference is that burhead sedge has 1 to 6 dense, burr-like clusterheads. Cyperus species do not have burr-like clusterheads.
- This bulrush has a sharply triangular stem.
- It has many long, narrow leaves that arise from the base of the plant.
- Around the bottom of the umble-like inflorescence are 2 to 6 very long leaf-like bracts.
- The inflorescence has dense, burr-like heads.