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Genus Machaerina Family Cyperaceae

Synonyms: Baumea Gaudich. APNI*

Description: Perennials with short rhizomes. Culms erect, tufted, noded or nodeless.

Leaves distichous, isobilateral, glabrous, flattened to terete, or reduced.

Inflorescence panicle-like; involucral bracts culm-like. Spikelets usually clustered, 1–5 bisexual flowers; rachilla persistent. Glumes few, obscurely distichous, keeled, usually lowest 1–3 empty, often shorter than fertile glumes. Perianth absent. Stamens 3. Style 3-fid, deciduous; style base thickened, persistent on nut, fused as hemispherical to conical apex, often minutely hispid or papillose.

Nut trigonous to terete, prominently to obscurely 3-ribbed, smooth at maturity, otherwise irregularly wrinkled.

Photo John R. Hosking

Other photo
Photo John R. Hosking

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 55 species, tropical & temperate regions. Australia: 17 species (11 species endemic), all States.

This concept now includes Baumea. Both have been included in Cladium in the past but that genus is not closely related.

Text by K. L. Wilson (May 2015); edited (May 2019)
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Leaf blades flat, or 4-angled in cross section, or all reduced to flattened mucros on sheaths2
Leaf blades terete or ovate in cross section (rarely somewhat angular or flattened at apex)9
2All leaves reduced to flattened mucros; culms 1–3-nodedMachaerina juncea
Basal leaves well-developed (cauline leaves reduced if present); culms nodeless or 1- (rarely 2-) noded
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3Leaves square to rhomboid (occasionally narrowly so) in cross section, faces concave or occasionally flatMachaerina tetragona
Leaves flattened (at least near apex in Machaerina rubiginosa) or narrow-rhomboid, faces flat or convex
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4Leaves scabrous5
Leaves smooth
                       Back to 3
5Glumes 3.0–3.8 mm long; spikelets 3.5–4.5 mm long; nut 1.7–2.0 mm long, 0.8–1.1 mm diam.; culms 1.2–4 mm diam.; sheaths pale brown; leaves with raised 'midvein' even if otherwise flatMachaerina planifolia
Glumes 6–10 mm long; spikelets 6–11 mm long; nut 2.7–3.5 mm long, 1.0–1.6 mm diam.; culms 1–2 mm diam.; sheaths reddish; leaves without a raised midvein
                       Back to 4
Machaerina johnsonii
6Nut 2.2–4 mm long, 1.2–2.0 mm diam., pale red-brown to bright orange or dark red-brown to blackish7
Nut 1.5–2.2 mm long, 1.0–1.3 mm diam., red-brown to black
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7Nut pale red-brown to bright orange; spikelets 2- or 3-flowered, in dense clusters; glumes 5; culms 1- or 2-noded (rarely nodeless); leaves often terete near baseMachaerina rubiginosa
Nut dark red-brown to blackish; spikelets 1-flowered, spread out along branches; glumes 3 or 4; culms nodeless; leaves flat throughout
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Machaerina muelleri
8Culms 15–35 cm high; leaves 0.7–2.5 mm wideMachaerina acuta
Culms 100–180 cm high; leaves 20–30 mm wide
                       Back to 6
Machaerina insularis
9Leaves hollow, perfectly transversely septateMachaerina articulata
Leaves pith-filled, occasionally irregularly transversely septate
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10Spikelets few, not in dense clusters, 1-flowered; glumes 2–4 (mostly 3)11
Spikelets numerous, often clustered, 1–4-flowered; glumes 4–6
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11Leaves much exceeding culms (to twice as long), c. 0.5 mm diam.; nut 2.0–2.3 mm long, 1.0–1.3 mm diam.; culms smoothMachaerina nuda
Leaves shorter than to slightly exceeding culms, 0.7–1.5 mm diam.; nut 2.5–3.5 mm long, 1.3–1.8 mm diam.; culms scaberulous or smooth
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Machaerina gunnii
12Nut strongly wrinkled, minutely papillose at base and apex, minutely hispid at extreme apex, 1.3–2.2 mm longMachaerina teretifolia
Nut smooth at maturity or somewhat reticulate, minutely hispid at apex, 2.0–4.0 mm long
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13Nut straw-coloured to whitish, triquetrous, 2.0–2.5 mm long, 1.0–1.3 mm diam.; spikelets not densely clustered; leaf blades and involucral bracts terete at apexMachaerina arthrophylla
Nut pale red-brown to bright orange at maturity, trigonous, 2.2–4.0 mm long, 1.2–2.0 mm diam.; spikelets in dense, discrete clusters on inflorescence branches; leaf blades and involucral bracts flattened at least at apex
                       Back to 12
Machaerina rubiginosa

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