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Family Cyperaceae, one of the 10 largest families of flowering plants, composed of about 5,000 species of grasslike herbs that inhabit wet regions worldwide. Sedges are monocots (seecotyledon) of extraordinary ecological importance; forming the base of food webs, they provide food and shelter for aquatic and wetland animals. They are also important as ornamentals and weeds, and are used in woven products such as mats, baskets, screens, and sandals. Key identifying characteristics that distinguish sedges from grasses are solid stems that are often triangular in cross section; leaves, when present, that clasp the stem with a sheath; and small spikes of minute flowers that are not enclosed in bracts. They range in height from about 1 in. to 13 ft (2 cm–4 m). The genus Carex represents the true sedges. Papyrus and bulrushes are also included in this family.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sedge family, visit Britannica.com.
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