Cladium mariscoides (Muhl.) Torr. - Smooth Sawgrass


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Cladium mariscoides - (image 1 of 3)



Family: Cyperaceae


Swamps and marshes, in acidic, calcareous, or saline places.




Nova Scotia to MN, south to western FL and KY; also in eastern TX.


Herbaceous perennial from rhizomes, often colonial; culms stiff, slender, to 1 m, solitary or few together; leaf blades 1-3 mm wide, channeled toward the base, flat or nearly so in the middle, becoming terete towards the apex, smooth or nearly so; inflorescence compound, cymosely branched, slender, the terminal cyme 5-10 cm, the lower ones remote; spikelets in small terminal capitate clusters, lanceolate, becoming ovoid, 3-5 mm; scales 5-6, spirally imbricate, the lower scales short, subrotund, the upper ovate; achene dull brown, 2.5-3.5 mm, pointed, the base either contracted or broadly truncate.


Fruiting June to September

Wetland indicator: OBL

Cladium can be distinguished from Scirpus and other similar genera by the absence of bristles or scales on the achene, the presence of 2 or more foliaceous bracts, and one fertile flower (thus only one achene) per spikelet that is terminal, the others staminate and at least the lowest scale empty. This species has more or less smooth leaf margins while other Cladium spp. have leaves that are harshly scabrous.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY




Michael Hough 2018