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Purple Nut Sedge & Wet Weather: A Challenge To The Perfect Landscape

Purple Nut Sedge & Wet Weather: A Challenge To The Perfect Landscape

Purple Nut Sedge aggressively moves into any sunny open space and crowds out competitors.

Purple Nut Sedge aggressively moves into any sunny open space and crowds out competitors.

The spring season in panhandle Florida is colorful. Every location from frequently manicured gardens to untended fields and pastures are exploding with hues and tones pleasing to the eye.

These heralds of the warmer weather to come are trailed by the warm season’s greenery which fills in the gaps between blooms. The consistent and ample rains have assured the continuance of a bright and pleasing landscape backed by countless shades and textures of green.

The adequate moisture has also assured the aggressive growth of an individually small, but collectively gigantic, weed which plagues every member of humanity associated with attempting to cultivate plants.

Purple nut sedge, Cyprus rotundus, has emerged en mass from every possible sunny location with soil. This native plant is a rapidly spreading perennial which will take every opportunity to colonize new locations.

The identifier purple is in the name because there is a purple-tinged section of this sedge where it emerges from the ground. The plant is sometimes referred to as purple nut grass because of its long narrow leaves and its erect growth pattern originate from a nutlike basal bulb.

There are other sedges in north Florida, but only yellow nut sedge is identified by a specific color. It is sometimes called chufa and is a popular feed for wild turkeys and turkey hunters.

The dark green, smooth leaves blend in easily with many turf grasses. Beneath the soil’s surface and out of sight, the root system grows in every direction.

Purple nut sedge’s roots are a series of spreading rhizomes and tubers or bulbs identified as nutlets. Each nutlet sprouts a new bunch of grass-like leaves and continues growing the rhizomes.

The densely population of this sedge quickly crowds out most other plants, but most especially turf and forage grasses. It can reach a height of 18 inches on its triangle shaped stem.

The root system’s design assures this plants survival and continued success. If pulled, the rhizomes break off leaving a large number of nutlets to develop and emerge at a later date.

If plowed or tilled, the nutlets are detached and spread to new and inviting locations. Many times nutlets lodge in tillage equipment only to shake loose and deposited in un-colonized locations.

Most herbicides have little on this sedge’s hardy root system. Selected pre-emergent herbicides will prevent many of the nutlets from germinating in spring.

North Florida’s sandier soils provide an ideal growing environment for purple nut sedge. The occasional periods of water saturation from storms do not deter this plant’s rapid and growth expansion to new areas, but it will not tolerate heavy shade.

Purple nut sedge’s extreme competitive nature is a heavy consumer of plant nutrients and robs rivals of important compounds necessary for their survival. Additionally, it produces an allelopathic substance which is toxic to some plants.

Purple nut sedge is found in many locales in North America where the environment is hospitable to its growth. The lush green leaves and touch of purple signify work for anyone who is maintaining a lawn or garden.

To learn more about purple nut sedge in north Florida contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office and read this informative publication on purple nutsedge.


Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director. He began his work in the Northwest Extension District as the Sustainable Agriculture and Extension Technology Agent in Leon County on August 25, 2006. His career in agriculture extends back over thirty five years and includes work in business, government and academic positions. Prior to working with the Extension Service, he spent 16 years with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the Division of Marketing and Development. He worked in four of the division’s six bureaus. He has also managed farm supply cooperatives in Alabama and Virginia with annual sales over four million dollars, worked for an international grain company, and was a research associate for Auburn University’s Agricultural Economics Department. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He is the author of over 500 publications and has written professionally for print, electronic and broadcast media.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/05/06/purple-nut-sedge-wet-weather-a-challenge-to-the-perfect-landscape/