Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Weedy Yellow Nutsedge, Weedy Nutsedge, Weedy Nutgrass
Cyperus esculentus

Family: Cyperaceae (sy-peer-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cyperus (sy-PEER-us) (Info)
Species: esculentus (es-kew-LEN-tus) (Info)

Synonym:Cyperus esculentus var. esculentus

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
Chartreuse (Yellow-Green)
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 11 photos.
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2 positives
3 neutrals
14 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative brianbender On May 24, 2011, brianbender from Reading, PA wrote:

has anyone ever tried a herbicide called sedge hammer It kills the weed down to the nuts. I to have it in a day lily garden of mine started a program to erradicate the weed infestation in it and so far have killed everything but the thistle and the nutsedge. going after the sedges with sedge hammer and pulling. at the end of the summer I will be tilling and re planting the day lilies after cleaning all the sedge out of the plants when I seperate the roots. I've used sedge hammer before as a landscape pro and it works wonders kills in about 14 days. bad areas may need more than one application until control is established. word of caution do not use as an over spray to desirable plants as damage or death can occur to your ornamentals spray the ground around the desirable plant. I'm just starting the war on my sedge I'll let you know how it works out.

Negative gardengirl7716 On Apr 27, 2011, gardengirl7716 from Reidsville, NC wrote:

This is my first time having to try to do something with this terrible weed. I have been doing some research and have found that the USDA has been doing some experimenting with horticultural molasses as a control for this pest. I plan on trying it after I dig my potatoes this summer (if there are any to dig after this pest gets through with them). Supposedly the molasses will stimulate microbial action in the soil which will "eat" the nuts. You can read about it on several websites by searching for "molasses and nutgrass". Hope this helps at least some of you.

Negative the_naturalist On Aug 24, 2010, the_naturalist from Monrovia, CA wrote:

This one invaded my yard from a neighbor's. I expect it started in his yard from seeds hitch-hiking on his boat trailer. It keeps my lawn green in winter when the St. Augustine has gone dormant/gray but in the flower beds it is, as everyone says, a losing battle.

I've tried pure Roundup, pure chlorine bleach, salt, sugar, vinegar, and another "tough weed" commercial spray. Digging the "nuts" can help, but the larger ones are clustered with tiny new ones that break off and spread as the parent bulb is lifted.

My next attempt will be full-strength brush killer poison, applied to the freshly cut tops. I have had good results with that on vines and tree stumps. I think "freshly cut" is the key. Will let you know how it works on the nutgrass.

Negative wandygirl On May 11, 2010, wandygirl from Brookfield, CT wrote:

Forget about using Roundup (glyphosate) or any so-called broad-leaf weed killer on nutsedge. It's not going to work. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where you need to haul out the heavy guns. I'm calling our lawn care guy today to see if he is licensed to apply the herbicides mentioned. Last year I made the mistake of letting it go to seed in a flower bed and now there are way too many seedlings to pull by hand. I'm going to zap it before it gets into the lawn.

Negative mrs_colla On Nov 21, 2009, mrs_colla from Marin, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

When I clicked to add my zipcode to the grow zone of this plant, I didn't mean I had succes with it, more like it has succes with me.
We have some of it growing between the cracks of the driveway/sidewalk, and I cannot seem to get rid of it, I tried knifeing it out, round up, hot water, and my next attempt might be voodoo!!!
I keep it cut down, so it doesn't bloom and reseed, but that's all I can do.
And no, I don't have "control issues", I just don't like this plant.

Negative vossner On Feb 16, 2009, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

My 2nd worst enemy in the yard. (wild onion is #1). I attended a lecture and learned hand-pulling will only promote its growth. But I have been able to control it in flower beds with Fertilome's "Over the Top". It's specifically formulated to kill sedges w/o hurting other plants.

Positive cactusman102 On Aug 21, 2008, cactusman102 from Lawrence, KS wrote:

Relax a bit......let the plant take what! Look what our own invasive species has done to this earth! Besides, plants like this are good for absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), sequestering harmful chemicals and adding oxygen to the air. I figure we should promote dense stands of plants like this to offset all the tropical forests we cut down and burn.

Maybe instead of crying about how this plant ruined your life and saying how horrible it is, lets try to see the good too.... explore its use as paper, bio-fuel, erosion control, or neighbor screening and repellant.

Think about this.....If you are concerned about a plant taking over, you are upset because of a control issue!You are upset that you can't control a species just as determined to survive on this earth as you are.

Negative Jennigma On May 9, 2008, Jennigma from Elkins Park, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Argh! My (generally extremely knowledgeable) gardening neighbor told me this was an annual. I didn't think so-- it's popping back up too strong and frequently for it to be a seed start. I came browsing on DG to try to figure out what I was up against, and now I'm frightened.

I (so far) only have it in one little corner of my yard, in a 2' square patch. Is there anything that would kill it? Could I cover it with black plastic for a year or so? is it possible to screen the soil? What do I have to do to clear it? I'm pulling and pulling and pulling and pulling and cursing the previous owner who didn't maintain the gardens for the 7 yrs previous to my arrival. Thank goodness I only have the one small patch, but how do I eradicate it before it takes over?

Negative ouxly40 On Jul 8, 2007, ouxly40 from Tampa, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

2 years ago I bought several bales of hay to mix in with my soil. It must have had seeds in it. Now it has taken over everything. It's in my yard, my neighbors yard all my flower beds and the garden is infested. It chokes my tiller to a stop. The tiny threads making up the root system are like fishing line. Pure, concentrated roundup only slows it down.

I understand that people in Europe eat the nuts. If you want some they are free - you only have to take them all!

Negative dmj1218 On Mar 18, 2007, dmj1218 from west Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

The ever present "thorn" in the side of my gardening experience. It and bermuda grass are the two biggest problems I have.

Negative trunnels On Oct 16, 2005, trunnels from Plano, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I just want to support htop in stressing the negativity and invasiveness of this monster. My backyard St. Augustine is full of it and I have been told that the only thing I can do is keep it mowed. Well, it grows twice as fast as my grass, so picture that.

Negative htop On Jul 5, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Note: I apologize for the length of this comment; but, I feel it is my duty to explain what a horrible nuisance Cyperus esculentus var. esculentus (weedy nutsedge/nutgrass) is in my yard as well as others that I know. Living with it is like living through a nonending gardening nightmare.

Some background:
The chufa eaten by people are not the kind of nutsedge I am describing and that have been mentioned in previous posts. That type is Cyperus esculentus var. sativus (cultivated nutsedge) and is also known as tiger nuts and earth-almonds. Herein, is where some of the confusion lies about this entry in the PlantFiles. There is no separate entry for each.

This cultivated nutsedge does not have the over-wintering capability of the perennial yellow nutsedge and is grown as an annual plant. It does not produce the huge number of seeds that is typical of the perennial nutsedge. In Massachusetts, it was reported that weedy nutsedge produced 605 MILLION seeds per hectare which is equal to 10,000 square meters or a little more than 2.47 acres (1). A single nutsedge tuber is able to propagate close to 1900 plants and 7000 tubers annually (2). The weedy nutsedge tubers are a grayish brown color; whereas, the cultivated Chufa tubers are grayish orange color. The cultivated variety's tuber is much larger than the weedy variety's tuber.

Research studies have found that Cyperus esculentus species have been found be allelopathic (means that a plant has a beneficial or harmful effect upon another plant) in relationship to corn, tomatoes, grasses and other plants. Unfortunately, the nutsedges studied had harmful effects. Yellow nutsedge has been cited as being the host to soil-dwelling bacteria that can destroy soil-borne nitrogen as well as producing allelochemicals that effect seed germination and plant growth. So, research studies imply that Cyperus esculentus has been shown to negatively effect agroecosystems.

INow my experiences with Cyperus esculentus var. esculentus (weedy nutsedge/nutgrass):

If I could add a 1000 more negatives to this plant, I would. Once you do not fight it constantly, it will gradually kill almost all of the low growing plants by not permitting them to receive any light. I am not sure if they also effect the growth of the other plants by robbing the soilof nutrients and/or production of allelochemicals.which has been suggested by some research studies. I do know that I have had difficulty growing certain plants as transplants and with seed germination in the areas where the nutsedge has been prolifically growing for years. It does not seem to effect larkspur, moss rose, purselane, Texas bluebonnets nor lantana. But, all of the roses as well as many types of bulbs and other plants are unable to grow in these areas (but to be fair, I can't blame on the nutsedge - it might just be a coincidence.)

It fills in 2 of my flowerbeds completely. I can't plant very much in the ground in them because I am constantly having to dig down 18 inches or more to try to locate the "nuts" and I would damage the roots of most of the plants if they were in the ground. Most of the plants in these areas are in containers. The nutgrass eventually fills the containers as well. These beds are now covered with 4 to 5 inches of cypress bark mulch again. I had removed the mulch so the larkspur and other wildflowers could come up.

It lines the cracks between my sidewalks and the space where the asphalt from the street meets the cement of the curb, grows in my hanging baskets, sprouts where the house meets the sidewalk in my entryway and in the crack where the driveway meets the garage and is impossible to eradicate from between the edging stones around the flowerbeds. I take a long knife and try to dig up the nuts from the cracks, but this is almost useless and I have damaged the cement.

Most of my neighbors have given up trying to grow anything but tall shrubs in their flowerbeds. Some have even removed their flowerbeds because of the nutgrass. I feel very sorry for several who are trying to grow lots of roses with the nutgrass taking over.

The only way I am able to grow anything in the ground in 2 flowerbeds is to dig up and sift through the dirt and remove as many nuts as I can. Then, I place 4 to 5 inches of cypress mulch over the dirt. In some areas, I have placed old rubber car floormats that I have begged people to give me over the dirt first. The nutgrass will not grow through thick rubber as it does through weed screens and just about anything else. Periodically, I have to remove the mulch and re-dig the dirt trolling for the nuts. After years ( about 20) of doing this, the nutgrass nuts start working their way up from deep down and are easier to pull.

The seeds sprout in the mulch so you can pull them up easily if you do it as soon as you see them. If the mulch is removed (as I do in the spring when I grow wildflowers), the nuts that have been lurking under the mulch sprout very quickly and start taking over again. It is a never ending battle and so discouraging. If you have nutgrass, be sure to get any flowerheads before they go to seed. The seeds can travel a great distance. After having a serious operation last year, I was unable to do this so nutgrass is coming up in other areas of my yard now. I have been able to dig these scattered ones up as soon as I see them.

My niece paid some guys to put in a pond for her. They assured her that nothing would grow through the container. Guess what, nutgrass punctured the plastic and has now taken over her whole pond. My brother paid over $20, 000 to have his front, back and side yards beautifully landscaped with meandering flowerbeds, ponds and terraces as well as lots of native plants, perennials, tropical plants and areas for annuals. In 5 years, his flowerbeds have been destroyed because nutgrass has taken them over.

If you have nutgrass, be sure to mow the nutgrass that is surely mixed in with your turf grass before it goes to seed. Nutgrass grows more quickly than your normal turf grass so your lawn is always looking a bit unkempt with the turf grass neatly moved and thousands of nutgrass blades quickly growing and sticking up.

Roundup does not kill it. I bought Image 4 years ago to try to get rid of the nutgrass, but would not use it after reading the warnings on the label about its effects on other plants. My neighbor has painted it on the nutgrass blades with a small brush in a flowerbed that had been completely taken over. It took him days, days and days. He finally gave up because you have to apply it constantly as the new nutgrass blades emerge.

I have not found nutsedge difficult to eradicate. I have found it impossible to eradicate. If I could some way eradicate it from my yard, it would return by seed from the plants in my neighbor's yards. If my highly invasive plant problem wasn't nutsedge, I could eradicate just about anything else including Johnson and Bermuda grass. Nutsedge does not fill in spaces that have been vacated by other plants in my yard. It grows right next to the stems of my other plants and takes over thereby killing most of the other plants. I wish that it was "fulfilling an ecological function" somewhere else as does anyone who has the misfortune to have it growing in their landscaped yards. I will eventualy be unable to physically remove it all of the time and that's when I will move from my beloved home. The nutsedge will have won.

Wait a minute ..
Maybe I should fence in my front and side yards (and be sued by the Neigborhood Association which has legally confiscated people's homesteads for breaking deed restrictions), make my yard a bog and have some wild Russian boars have at the nutgrass to keep it under control. The raccoons and opossums just seem to like to dig for grubworms so they are no help at all.

(1) Lapham, Jon and D. S. H. Drennan. 1990. The Fate of Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) Seed and Seedlings in Soil. Weed Sci. 38: 125-128.
(2) Reddy, Krishna N. and L. E. Bendixen. 1988. Toxicity,Adsorption, Translocation, and Metabolism of Foliar-Applied Chlorimuron in Yellow and Purple Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus and C. rotundus). Weed Sci. 39: 707-712.

Note: (1) and (2) as cited by Deatra J. Sams in
"Nutsedge: Weedy Pest or Crop of the Future?" Southern Illinois University Carbondale / Ethnobotanical Leaflets

Neutral frostweed On Sep 7, 2004, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I agree that this plant is dificult to eradicate when it comes up in a place where we don't want it. However we must remember that plants will cover the earth as soon as the space is vacated by another plant. So remember that if it wasn't nutsedge it would be something else. Let us just say that nutsedge is fulfilling an ecological function.

By the way, the chufas are excellent and easy to eat if you soak them in water overnight. They sell them this way as a snack in Spain and I loved them when I was a kid.

Neutral trois On Sep 6, 2004, trois from Santa Fe, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

I am saying so far a neutral. It has not spread in four years beyond the edge of our big pond. It is surrounded by old growth vegetation. Yesterday I looked all over and could find no evidence of spreading. I think all the wild life in the area are keeping it under control. We have wild hogs, Possums, Raccons, hundreds of waterfowl (wild) including frequent Wood Ducks. The hogs are busy now eating Cattail tubers. I never see the hogs, just the tracks and mess. I can see that if you lived in an area without a lot of critters to control it, it would likely or for sure be a problem. I will keep a close watch over it, thanks to the many warnings.

Negative treelover3 On Sep 4, 2004, treelover3 from Minneapolis, MN (Zone 5a) wrote:

Of all of the weeds that I have tried to kill, this has been THE most difficult to eradicate. The "nuts" that remain in the soil continue to re-sprout and if you till the soil you spread them everywhere.

I have sprayed with roundup for two years to try and kill this weed, but it keeps coming back again and again.

Spray with roundup mixed 50/50 with water ASAP. (I purchased the pre-mixed roundup and it killed the lawn but didn't touch the nut sedge. I had to buy the roundup concentrate and mix it really strong to kill the growth on the nut sedge, but it still does nothing to the "nuts" left in the ground.)

THE worst weed known to man (and woman).

Negative melody On Jul 7, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Nutsedge may be attractive to wildlife, but it is nearly impossible to get rid of in your garden. I would never plant this on purpose.

In the early spring when the grass like tops begin to emerge, lots of folk think they can eliminate it by simply pulling it up. The nutlike base remains and just sends up another stalk.

I have it in my vegetable garden and guess I'll have to fight it from now on out.

Negative Greenknee On Aug 16, 2003, Greenknee from Chantilly, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Nutsedges are VERY invasive pests throughout their growing range. They are almost impossible to eradicate, as the "nuts" that survive underground are insulated from ordinary exterminants. Unless you have some need for a "hardscrable survivor type" in your scheme of landscaping, omit any of the nutsedges!

Positive Maudie On Aug 15, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

When I was a child my daddy planted chufas to see what they were like. They formed little
brown 'nuts' and they really did taste good but were very hard to chew hence they were never again planted for human consumption.
They are reported to be good for hogs since they like to root in the ground for food anyway. While chufas do taste good I suggest that peanuts would be a better choice for humans to eat.

Neutral Terry On Aug 14, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Apparently a favorite food of wild turkeys and other critters, chufas are planted by wild game enthusiasts in a "food plot" to which the turkeys will return throughou the fall and winter.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Jones, Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Blytheville, Arkansas
Clovis, California
Monrovia, California
San Anselmo, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
Bartow, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Kula, Hawaii
Chicago, Illinois
Barbourville, Kentucky
Benton, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
New Orleans, Louisiana
Vacherie, Louisiana
Valley Lee, Maryland
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Cole Camp, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Hillsborough, North Carolina
Reidsville, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
North Ridgeville, Ohio
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Elkins Park, Pennsylvania
Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Reading, Pennsylvania
Arlington, Texas
Buffalo, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas

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