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Weed of the Month – Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)

Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is perennial and rapidly reproduces from underground tubers.

Yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is perennial and rapidly reproduces from underground tubers.
Jackie Jordan, ©2019, Clemson University

The bright green leaves of yellow nutsedge have started to actively grow in landscapes this month. Sedges are classified separately from broadleaf and grassy weeds. Sedges have triangular shaped stems, which can be felt when rolled on fingertips. Grasses have rolled or folded stems.

Yellow nutsedge is perennial and rapidly reproduces from underground tubers. The tubers called nutlets grow on the tips of rhizomes that are produced by the plant starting in early summer. The tubers that remain in the soil from hand pulling can re-sprout ten to twelve times.

This North American native quickly becomes established in moist, poorly drained sites; therefore, avoid overwatering your lawn. For more information on proper irrigation and lawn aeration, see HGIC 1802, Landscape Irrigation Management Part 3: How Much Water?, HGIC 1805, Landscape Irrigation Management Part 6, Soil Type and Irrigation Frequency, and HGIC 1200, Aerating Lawns.

Yellow nutsedge can also invade drier areas as well. The nutlets can remain dormant in the soil for up to ten years and can be introduced into a landscape through topsoil and nursery stock. Cultivation in the vegetable garden can also spread the weed. Early detection and proper identification can limit infestations. There are several effective herbicides that provide control for yellow nutsedge. Most need to be applied early in the season when the nutsedge is around the 3-leaf stage of growth. Secondary applications need to be applied before new nutlets begin to form in June. For herbicide recommendations and more information, please see HGIC 2312, Nutsedge.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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