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Yellow Nutsedge

Did You Know?

A few facts:

  • Invasive and difficult to control
  • Has yellow leaves and blooms
  • Tubers are edible

How to get rid of Yellow Nutsedge:

  • Fix lawn drainage problems
  • Treat with herbicides

Information by Rakesh Chandran, Ph.D., WVU Extension Weed Science Specialist

Is Yellow Nutsedge Sporting an Edge on Your Turf?

Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) is a perennial weed that can easily invade a lawn and reduce its aesthetic appeal. It can also be a nuisance weed in flowerbeds, vegetable gardens and even in row crops. It is notorious for consistently ranking globally as one of the worst 25 weeds. The ability of Yellow Nutsedge to reproduce through rhizomes, tubers and viable seeds enables it to spread rapidly and to maintain a competitive edge. In lawns, the differences in its color and texture of the leaves make it conspicuous, especially when they are growing in scattered clumps. The shoots of Yellow Nutsedge often grow faster than most turfgrasses after being mowed, causing them to stick out.

Yellow Nutsedge Identification

Yellow Nutsedge belongs to the family Cyperceae, also referred to as the Sedge family. Although members of this family are monocots, under which grasses fall, they are different from grasses by possessing stems that have a triangular cross-section as opposed to a circular cross-section. It is thereby easy to distinguish it from grasses by remembering “sedges have edges.” The leaves of Yellow Nutsedge have grooves and ridges, a shiny surface with a slight Yellow hue and taper to a sharp point. The weed typically emerges in early May. They grow actively during the hot summer months and start to produce tubers in July. The blooms are characterized by inconspicuous dull Yellow clustered spikelets.

The rhizomes of Yellow Nutsedge produce tubers at their distal ends; more than 1,000 tubers can be produced by a single plant during a growing season. The tubers can overwinter and remain viable in the soil for more than 10 years. Most of the tubers are found in the top 6 inches of soil. Tubers of Yellow Nutsedge are considered to be edible.

Yellow Nutsedge Controls

Yellow Nutsedge can thrive under a variety of soil conditions ranging from damp or wet soils to those that are well-drained. Rectifying drainage problems in a lawn can provide better growing conditions for the turf to outcompete Yellow Nutsedge and other moisture-loving weeds.

Control methods are more effective during the early stages of infestation compared to those when it is well established. In lawns, an herbicide containing the active ingredient halosulfuron (sold as Sedgehammer) is considered to be effective. It will have to be applied during the active growing period of the weed. A sequential application may be required two months after initial application to control well established stands. Halosulfuron is found in the product Sandea, which is labeled for use in certain vegetables, and in Permit for use in certain row crops. The herbicide sulfentrazone also is considered to be somewhat effective to control Yellow Nutsedge in lawns. It is sold as Dismiss as well as Q4, which also contains three other active ingredients to control a broader spectrum of weeds.

Physical methods, such as mulches and cultivation, are not considered to be effective to control Yellow Nutsedge. The newly emerging sharp shoot-tips can poke through mulches. Cultivation often tends to aggravate the weed problem by spreading the vegetative propagules around.

Author: Rakesh Chandran, WVU Extension Weed Science Specialist
Last Reviewed: June 2019

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services does not imply endorsement by West Virginia University Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.