sedge, common name for members of the Cyperaceae, a family of grasslike and rushlike herbs found in all parts of the world, especially in marshes of subarctic and temperate zones. The name sedge is also used specifically for species of the genus Carex of the same family. Sedges differ from true grasses in having solid, angular (usually triangular) stems. Most are perennial, reproducing by rhizomes. Some sedges are woven into mats and chair seats, and a few provide coarse hay. The pith of Cyperus papyrus was the source of the papyrus of ancient Egypt and other Mediterranean countries. Bulrushes, often called clubrushes, are sedges of the genus Scirpus; various other similar plants are also called bulrushes. The bulrushes in which the infant Moses was hidden (Ex. 2.8) were probably papyrus. The Oriental water chestnut ( Eleocharis tuberosa ) is cultivated extensively among the Chinese for its edible tubers. An unrelated Asian aquatic plant, Trapa natans, also called water chestnut (or water caltrop or hornnut) and sometimes also used for food, is now naturalized in the United States. Many genera of the sedge family have indigenous and abundant species in America. Sedge is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Cyperaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.