Cutty, Cutting Grass, Moo-oo Grass, Leafy Flat-sedge
Cyperus lucidus is a member of the sedge family, Cyperaceae, a cosmopolitan family of grass-like herbs usually found growing in moist situations in most climatic regions. There are over thirty Cyperaceae genera in Australia including Cyperus, Carex, Gahnia and Scirpus. Although not often grown as garden plants, some Cyperaceae are most attractive and would well merit inclusion, whilst others are considered noxious weeds which one could well do without. The African species, Cyperus alternifolius, the Umbrella Plant, is a popular potted plant.
Cyperus lucidus occurs naturally in eastern Australia from Tasmania to Queensland and through into New Guinea, along margins of creeks and rivers, at or close to the water's edge. It is a robust perennial sedge growing from a short, thick rootstock. The stems are solid, triangular in cross-section and grow to 1.3 m. The leaves, which all grow from the base of the stem to about 1 m in length, are thick and glossy. The flowers, which individually are inconspicuous, form an attractive umbrella-like head which is bright red when young, turning red-brown as it matures. The fruit is a small, dark, angular nut.
Fresh seed will germinate readily within about a month in a warm situation, the seedlings establishing readily. At the Australian National Botanic Gardens, however, propagation generally has been by division of the rootstock. The plants will grow in either full sun or partial shade and could well be incorporated into a rockery which includes a water feature by ensuring that the roots are either in the water or close to it. The clump may be divided and replanted in autumn if it has outgrown its site. If the leaves are cut back in late autumn new leaves and flowers will develop in spring. The flowering period is from approximately October to December. Cyperus lucidus is generally free of pests and diseases and is frost hardy in Canberra.
Text by Julia Rymer, ANBG (1981)
Name meaning: Cyperus lucidus
Cyperus - derived from kyperus, an old Greek name for a sedge;
lucidus - from the Greek, meaning shining, clear, transparent and referring to the flowering head.