Cyperus brevifolius


Cyperus: From the ancient Greek name for sedge, kypeiros
brevifolius: short-leaved

Common Name(s)

Cyperus brevifolius (Rottb.) Hassk.



Brief Description

Grassy turfs up to 30 cm tall, usually much less, with characteristic single green to yellow oval flowerhead usually with three (rarely two or four) long grass-like leaves immediately under this, at the end of flower stalk.

Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Kyllinga brevifolia Rottb.


Scattered in northern North Island south to Taranaki, also in Westland.


Wet pasture and heavily trampled/mown areas such as pathways, wet lawns.


The plant has long rhizomes with reddish-purple scales. The flower stems are 1 to 30 cm high, slender, with one to four basal leaves. The leaves are shorter than the flower stems, flat and 1 to 2.5 mm wide. There are many tightly clustered spikelets, each 3 mm long and with one fertile and one sterile glume. The glumes are membranous with the green keel forming a sharp tip. The lower glume has 3 nerves on each side, and the upper has two such nerves. There is a single stamen with two style branches.

Similar Taxa

No other sedge has the single oval flowerhead subtended by usually 3 long leafy bracts, with the exception of Rhynchospora colorata, restricted to the Kermadecs, which has a white oval head.


Summer to autumn

Flower Colours



Summer to autumn

Year Naturalised



Pan tropical and sub-tropical

Reason for Introduction

Unknown, seed or soil contaminant.

Control Techniques

Controlled by mowing.

Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seed dispersed by contaminated machinery.


Prepared by Paul Champion and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA). Description from Healy & Edgar (1980).

References and further reading

Healy, A.J.; Edgar, E.  (1980). Flora of New Zealand, Volume III.  Adventive Cyperaceous, Petalous and Spathaceous Monocotyledons.  Government Printer, Wellington.  220pp.

Johnson PN, Brooke PA (1989).  Wetland plants in New Zealand.   DSIR Field Guide, DSIR Publishing, Wellington. 319pp.

Champion et al (2012). Freshwater Pests of New Zealand.  NIWA publication. http://www.niwa.co.nz/freshwater-and-estuaries/management-tools/identification-guides-and-fact-sheets/freshwater-pest-species

This page last updated on 14 Mar 2016