Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is widely considered one of the most difficult and troublesome weeds to control in Northeast Ohio. This weed is not a grass and it’s not a broadleaf weed. It often prefers moist to wet low lying areas and can grow three times as fast as turf grass in the peak of summer. It will be very noticeable 2-3 days after mowing.
Yellow nutsedge is of subtropical origin and native to North America and Eurasia. However, this species has spread throughout the world. Prior to the mid 1950s, it was previously found in areas where you have hot summers and mild winters. Since then its spread north and is common throughout Northeast Ohio. Yellow Nutsedge now grows naturally along river banks, marshes, around lakeshores, fields, lawns, and gardens. Yellow nutsedge loves water and full sun, so you’ll find it in poorly drained areas of all soil types including clay.
Description and Identification
Yellow Nutsedge is distinctive and fairly easy to identify because of its unique characteristics. It is an erect grass-like weed that is a light green to yellowish in color. The leaves (blades), can be up to ½” wide with a thick mid-vein, triangular stem, waxy covering, and golden-brown flower head (look like spikes). One way to identify Yellow nutsedge is to pull one and roll the stem in your fingers and you’ll feel three sides of the triangular-shaped stem.
Typically the leaves will be approximately 4 inches to 12+ inches long and ⅛ inch to ½ inch wide. Leaves grow in threes around the triangular stem, usually at the base of the plant. Yellow nutsedge leaves also grow taller than the surrounding grass during the summer months. You’ll see it shoot up, sometimes double the height of your grass blades.
Yellow nutsedge roots are fibrous, shallow, underground systems made up of thin, scaly rhizomes (horizontal underground stems), and tubers (similar to bulbs). Rhizomes allow the plant to spread horizontally over an area creating ‘child’ plants, which form masses of yellow nutsedge. The tubers act as storage tanks and produce new plants. At the height of the growing season, each plant can produce nearly 7000 tubers (possible new plants). As the nutsedge flowers it produces seed.