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Genus Scleria Family Cyperaceae

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.

Scleria sphacelata F.Muell. occurs close to the border in SE Queensland, so may occur in NSW (in the Yetman - Texas region). It is a dioecious species, unlike the morphologically similar species S. mackaviensis and S. brownii.

Text by K. L. Wilson (1993); edited KL Wilson (Sept 2022)
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Leaves with blade 5–8 mm wide; tall perennial with thick woody rhizomeScleria levis
Leaves with blade less than 4 mm wide; slender tufted annuals or perennials with very short, slender rhizome2
2Disk thickish, rather collar-like, lobes without mucro3
Disk shallow, triangular, with mucro at each corner
                       Back to 1
Scleria tricuspidata
3Leaves with blade 2–4 mm wide; stamen 1; anther 0.5–0.7 mm long; disk minutely papillose; annualScleria rugosa
Leaves with blade 1–2 mm wide; stamens 3; anthers 2–2.5 mm long; disk not papillose; perennial
                       Back to 2
Scleria mackaviensis

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