Cyperus (Cyperus bracheilema )

Also known as: sedge

Cyperus bracheilema is a perennial sedge. It has become a significant weed of crops in Africa and is seen to be a potential threat in Australia.


How does this weed affect you?

Cyperus has become a significant weed of crops of the East African highlands, in particular Kenya. As it is a weed in overseas agricultural areas with climatic and environmental conditions similar to those that occur in Australia, it is seen as a potential threat to Australia’s environment and agricultural productivity.

What does it look like?

Cyperus bracheilema is a perennial sedge which grows to 500 mm high. Sedges are evergreen plants with triangular stems that generally grow in damp areas. This species has long, delicate stolons that sprout new plants. 

Stems are triangular in cross section and up to 45 cm long and 1 cm in diameter.

The leaves are 1–3 mm wide, have roughened margins and are bright green in colour.

The shape and colour of the inflorescence distinguishes C. bracheilema from all other sedge species. The main flowering spike is egg-shaped, purple to black in colour, and made up of many tiny flowers  to 3 mm long with a distinctive point. There are 3-5 prominent leaf-like bracts below the flower spike.

Fruit is dry, contains one seed and does not split open to release the seed when on the plant.

The roots are fibrous and the plant has an extensive rhizome system (underground stems).

Scientific name change

This plant was previously named Cyperus teneristolon.

Where is it found?

This species of Cyperus has been found in a few locations in the Central tablelands, Greater Sydney Region and Hunter Regions. It was first recognised as naturalised in Australia in 2000, believed to be sourced from a refuse tip upstream of Yosemite Creek in the Minnehaha Reserve in the Blue Mountains.

Cyperus bracheilema is native to Ethiopia and neighbouring countries, extending to South Africa. 

How does it spread?

Cyperus is thought to have been introduced into the Australian natural environment by the dumping of garden plants at the Blue Mountains refuse tip. However, no source plant has ever been found. Cyperus is capable of spreading vegetatively, by its rhizome and stolon systems, and by seed. Its invasion of Yosemite Creek downstream from its source may have been via the movement of seed carried in the water. The whole spike will fall as one unit and eventually release the fruit (a nut) and the enclosed seed. 

What type of environment does it grow in?

Cyperus prefers highland areas with soils that are sandy and poor in nutrients. 


CRC for Australian Weed Management: Tanya McLean (Bushcare Coordinator for the Blue Mountains), John Hosking (NSW Agriculture/Weeds CRC), Jeremy Bruhl (University of New England).

More information

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Because Cyperus has naturalised in only one known location, it can still be eradicated. Any new outbreaks should be reported immediately to your local council weed officer. Do not try to control Cyperus without their expert assistance. Control effort that is poorly performed or not followed up can actually help spread a weed and worsen the problem.

Herbicide options

Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website

See Using herbicides for more information.

Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 10 mL per 1 L water
Comments: Spot spray. For general weed control in domestic areas (home gardens), commercial, industrial and public service areas, agricultural buildings and other farm situations.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: 9 (previously group M), Inhibition of 5-enolpyruvyl shikimate-3 phosphate synthase (EPSP inhibition)
Resistance risk: Moderate

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All pest plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.

Reviewed 2021