Cyperus ligularis (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
Introduction
List of species


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Cyperus ligularis L.


Protologue: Syst. Nat., ed. 10, 2: 867 (1759).
Family: Cyperaceae

Synonyms

  • Mariscus rufus Kunth (1816),
  • Mariscus ligularis (L.) Urb. (1900).

Vernacular names

  • Swamp flat sedge (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Cyperus ligularis is distributed along the coast of West and Central Africa from Senegal to DR Congo. It also occurs in the Indian Ocean Islands and in South and Central America and the south-eastern United States.

Uses

In Ghana the stems have been made into brushes which are used for applying whitewash to houses. In Brazil unspecified parts are a forage. Cyperus ligularis is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant.

Botany

Perennial, tufted, glabrous herb with a short rhizome; stems up to 130 cm tall, (1–)4–6 (–12) mm in diameter, in the upper part obtusely 3-angled in cross-section, papillose, base thickened and covered with persistent leaf sheaths. Leaves inserted in the lower part of the stem, in 3 vertical ranks; sheath 12–19 cm long; ligule absent; blade linear, 30–100 cm × 5–15(–20) mm, acuminate at apex, v-shaped, glaucous, margin and dorsal surface of midvein scabrid. Inflorescence an anthela (pseudo-umbel) with 5–12 rays of unequal length; rays up to 6(–16) cm long, each apically bearing a spike or a fascicle of 2–7 dense spikes; involucral bracts 4–8, leaf-like, spreading, up to 50(–80) cm long, attenuate at the apex; spikes ovoid to nearly cylindrical, 10–35 mm long, dark reddish brown, with many, tightly packed spikelets. Spikelets ovoid, 3–7(–10) mm × 1–2.5 mm, 2–4(–7)-flowered; glumes imbricate, ovate, 2–3 mm long, acute or obtuse at the apex, often tinged pink, midvein often green; flowers bisexual, perianth absent, stamens 3, ovary superior, 1-locular, stigmas 3. Fruit an obovoid nutlet c. 1.5 mm × 0.5 mm, 3-angled, attenuate at the apex, brown, 1-seeded.

In Senegal Cyperus ligularis flowers in September–November(–January). Cyperus ligularis follows the C4-cycle photosynthetic pathway.

Cyperus comprises c. 650 species, mainly in the tropics and subtropics, and many of these are used for thatching and weaving. Cyperus ligularis and related species are sometimes classified in a separate genus Mariscus. Cyperus tomaiophyllus K.Schum. (synonym: Mariscus tomaiophyllus (K.Schum.) C.B.Clarke) is a very robust, perennial herb with stems up to 140 cm tall, occurring scattered in mountainous areas in West, Central and East Africa and Madagascar. It is used for thatching and is grazed by livestock.

Ecology

Cyperus ligularis is a salt-tolerant species occurring usually near the sea, in the open or in light shade in swamps, marshes, creek margins, fringes of salt land and mangroves and moist depressions in coastal dunes, as isolated individuals or in populations of several square metres.

Genetic resources

In view of its wide distribution Cyperus ligularis seems not liable to genetic erosion.

Prospects

Cyperus ligularis is only occasionally used for making brushes, and its importance is unlikely to increase.

Major references

  • Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
  • Lye, K.A., 1992. The history of the genus Mariscus (Cyperaceae). Lidia 3: 37–72.
  • Simpson, D.A., 2006. Flora da Reserva Ducke, Amazonas, Brasil: Cyperaceae. Rodriguésia 57(2): 171–188.
  • Simpson, D.A. & Inglis, C.A., 2001. Cyperaceae of economic, ethnobotanical and horticultural importance: a checklist. Kew Bulletin 56(2): 257–360.
  • Vanden Berghen, C., 1988. Flore illustrée du Sénégal. Monocotylédones et Ptéridophytes. Volume 9. Monocotylédones: Agavacées à Orchidacées. Gouvernement du Sénégal, Ministère du Développement Rural et de l’Hydraulique, Direction des Eaux et Forêts, Dakar, Senegal. 522 pp.

Other references

  • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
  • Ball, P.W., Reznicek, A.A. & Murray, D.F. (Editors), 2003. Cyperaceae. [Internet] Flora of North America. Volume 23. http://www.efloras.org/ florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=10246. June 2011.
  • Clarke, C.B., 1901–1902. Cyperaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 8. Lovell Reeve & Co., London, United Kingdom. pp. 266–524.
  • Haines, R.W. & Lye, K.A., 1983. The sedges and rushes of East Africa: a flora of the families Juncaceae and Cyperaceae in East Africa – with a particular reference to Uganda. East African Natural History Society, Nairobi, Kenya. 404 pp.
  • Hnatiuk, R.J., 1980. C4 photosynthesis in the vegetation of Aldabra Atoll. Oecologia 44: 327–334.
  • Hoenselaar, K., Verdcourt, B. & Beentje, H., 2010. Cyperaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 466 pp.
  • Hooper, S.S. & Napper, D.M., 1972. Cyperaceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 3. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 278–348.
  • Nelmes, E. & Baldwin, J.T. Jr., 1952. Cyperaceae in Liberia. American Journal of Botany 39(6): 368–393.
  • Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
  • Scholz, H. & Scholz, U., 1983. Flore descriptive des Cypéracées et Graminées du Togo. J. Cramer, Vaduz, Liechtenstein. 360 pp.

Author(s)

  • M. Brink, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Brink, M., 2011. Cyperus ligularis L. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 6 March 2020.