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a family of monocotyledonous plants. They are perennial or, less frequently, annual herbs; in the tropics treelike forms are frequently encountered. The culms are triquetrous or, less often, cylindrical; they have nodes primarily at their bases. The leaves are usually three-ranked and generally have linear blades and closed sheaths; the lower leaves or, sometimes, all the leaves are often reduced to sheaths. The small, inconspicuous flowers, which are usually pollinated by the wind, are bisexual or unisexual (in this case the plants are usually monoecious). The flowers are borne singly in the axils of the barren glumes and are gathered into spikelets that form an umbellate, spicate, paniculate, or racemose inflorescence; sometimes the spikelets are solitary. The fruit is one-seeded and nutlike.
There are approximately 90 genera of Cyperaceae, embracing more than 3,500 species, distributed throughout the world. They are common particularly in the temperate and cold zones of the northern hemisphere, where they grow in large numbers, mainly in damp or excessively moist places, in marshes, and along bodies of water. In the USSR there are about 20 cosmopolitan genera, which comprise 550 species. The most common genera include Carex, Scirpus, Cyperus, and Cobresia. Many species are good pasture plants; few are used as hay plants. The stems, leaves, and rhizomes are used as building material and for the manufacture of matting, baskets, cord, and sackcloth. The nodular formations on the rhizomes of some species, especially chufa (Cyperus esculentus), are used as food and as feed for livestock. Many species form turf. The Cyperaceae include medicinal plants and a number of ornamentals, which are cultivated in greenhouses and as house plants (mainly species of Cyperus) or in open ground (species of Carex and Eriophorum).
REFERENCESFlora SSSR, vol. 3. Leningrad, 1935.
Takhtadzhian, A. L. Sistema i filogeniia tsvetkovykh rastenii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
T. V. EGOROVA