Description: Monoecious [or rarely dioecious] perennials, often stout, with short or creeping rhizome, or annuals with fibrous reddish roots. Culms solitary or tufted, mostly erect, trigonous or triquetrous, noded.
Leaves sheathing culms, the lower often reduced to bladeless sheaths; ligule absent but tongue-like contraligule often produced at top of sheath opposite blade.
Inflorescence narrow, panicle-like, often with partial florescences ('clusters') widely separated; involucral bracts leaf-like. Spikelets usually bisexual, with several to numerous flowers, only nut-producing. Glumes usually distichous, the lower 2–4 empty and smaller. Flowers unisexual. Hypogynous bristles absent, but a ± 3-lobed disk is present at base of nut, usually falling with the mature nut. Male flowers consisting of 1–3 stamens. Female flowers with a 3-carpellate gynoecium; style 3-fid, caducous, the base often persistent on the nut.
Nut terete or trigonous, apiculate, with fragile crustaceous pericarp.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 200 species, mainly pantropical. Australia: 23 species (c. 3 species endemic), Qld, N.S.W., N.T., W.A.
Text by K. L. Wilson
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Leaves with blade 5–8 mm wide; tall perennial with thick woody rhizome||Scleria levis|
|Leaves with blade less than 4 mm wide; slender tufted annuals or perennials with very short, slender rhizome||2|
|2||Disk thickish, rather collar-like, lobes without mucro||3|
|Disk shallow, triangular, with mucro at each corner|
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|3||Leaves with blade 2–4 mm wide; stamen 1; anther 0.5–0.7 mm long; disk minutely papillose; annual||Scleria rugosa|
|Leaves with blade 1–2 mm wide; stamens 3; anthers 2–2.5 mm long; disk not papillose; perennial|
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