Scleria pauciflora Muhl. ex Willd.

few-flowered nutsedge

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Few-flowered nutsedge is an inhabitant of sandplains, pine barrens, oak shrublands and seasonally wet, sandy sites. It is rare in New England. There are two varieties in our region. Scleria pauciflora var. caroliniana is distinguished by having dense pubescence, and S. pauciflora var. pauciflora is distinguished by having short, sparse pubescence, and is found only in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Habitat

Grassland, sandplains and barrens, shrublands or thickets, wetland margins (edges of wetlands), woodlands

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
Stem shape in cross-section
the stem is roughly triangular in cross-section
Leaf blade width
1–2.5 mm
Leaf blade cross-section
the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
Inflorescence position
  • the inflorescence emerges from an axil, or most of its parts do so
  • the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
Inflorescence branching
  • the inflorescence is branched
  • the inflorescence is on one or more stems with no branches
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by scales
Fruit length
1–3 mm
Leaf position on plant
some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
Perianth composition
there is no perianth on the plant
Fruit cross-section
the fruit is triangular to terete (circular) in cross-section
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Anther length
    2–2.5 mm
    Floral bristle color
    NA
    Floral bristle number
    0
    Floral bristle relative length
    NA
    Floral bristles
    NA
    Floral scale hairs
    the floral scales have hairs on them
    Floral scale shape
    • the floral scales are lanceolate (widest below the middle, and tapering at both ends)
    • the floral scales are ovate (roughly egg-shaped)
    Inflorescence bract angle
    the bracts are vertical or angled only slightly outwards
    Inflorescence bract number
    • there are two to five bracts per inflorescence
    • there is just one bract on the inflorescence
    Inflorescence bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Inflorescence bracts
    there is only one bract, and it looks like a continuation of the stem
    Inflorescence branching
    • the inflorescence is branched
    • the inflorescence is on one or more stems with no branches
    Inflorescence crowding
    the inflorescence is crowded together in one tight cluster
    Inflorescence position
    • the inflorescence emerges from an axil, or most of its parts do so
    • the inflorescence is at the tip of the plant
    Inflorescence shape
    the aggregations within the inflorescence are roughly circular (not flattened) in cross-section
    Inflorescence type
    • there are two or more flowers, spikes or flower clusters on a branched inflorescence
    • there is one spike or raceme at the tip of the stem
    Perianth composition
    there is no perianth on the plant
    Stamen number
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Stigma number
    • 2
    • 3
    Style division
    the top two thirds of the style is divided
    floral bristle barbs
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene surface texture
    the achene has tiny wrinkles that run cross-wise across the achene
    Achene tubercle relative width
    NA
    Achene tubercle width
    0 mm
    Capsule relative length
    NA
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is triangular to terete (circular) in cross-section
    Fruit length
    1–3 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is like a seed, and surrounded by scales
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is an achene (dry, seed-like fruit) without a tubercle (a swelling or projection, usually of a different color or texture)
    Locules in capsule
    NA
    Seed length
    0 mm
    Seed tail relative length
    0 mm
    Seed tails
    NA
    Tubercle height
    0 mm
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Rhizome thickness
    Up to 5 mm
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Auricle length
    0 mm
    Auricle texture
    NA
    Auricles
    there are no auricles on the leaf sheath
    Leaf blade cross-section
    the leaf blade is flat or rolled in at the edges
    Leaf blade length
    Up to 20 mm
    Leaf blade width
    1–2.5 mm
    Leaf form
    all the leaves hold their form out of water
    Leaf position on plant
    some leaf attachment points are above the midpoint of the stem
    Leaf septa
    the leaf blades do not have transverse septa
    Leaf sheath hairs
    the leaf sheathes have hairs on them
    Pedicel length (Typha)
    0 mm
    Stem leaf blade ligules
    the plant has ligules at the leaf blade bases
    Stem leaf blades
    there are fully-developed leaves with leaf blades on the main stem
    Width of seed-producing inflorescence
    2–10 mm
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • grasslands
    • sandplains or barrens
    • shrublands or thickets
    • woodlands
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Plant height
    15–50 cm
    Stem shape in cross-section
    the stem is roughly triangular in cross-section
    Stem texture near tip
    the edges of the stem feel rough near the tip

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Massachusetts
rare (S-rank: S2), endangered (code: E)

var. caroliniana

Connecticut
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
Rhode Island
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), state threatened (code: ST)

var. pauciflora

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)
New Hampshire
historical (S-rank: SH), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Scleria reticularis

Synonyms

  • Scleria ciliata Michx. var. pauciflora (Muhl. ex Willd.) Kükenth.

Family

Cyperaceae

Genus

Scleria

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Variety caroliniana is known from CT, MA, NH, RI. Variety pauciflora is known from MA, NH.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Scleria pauciflora Muhl. ex Willd. NC

few-flowered nutsedge. 1a. Scleria pauciflora Muhl. ex Willd. var. kansana Fern.; 1b. Scleria ciliata Michx. var. pauciflora (Muhl. ex Willd.) Kükenth. • CT, MA, NH, RI; also reported from VT
by Reznicek et al. (2002), but specimens are unknown. Sandplains, oak shrublands, openings in woodlands, and low, seasonally wet, sandy areas.

1a.  Plants densely pubescent with spreading hairs 0.5–1 mm long 
 … 1a. S. pauciflora var. caroliniana (Willd.) Wood

1b.  Plants glabrous to sparsely pubescent with hairs less than 0.5 mm long 
 … 1b. S. pauciflora var. pauciflora

Variety caroliniana is known from CT, MA, NH, RI. Variety pauciflora is known from MA, NH.