Difference Between Grasses and Sedges

The key difference between grasses and sedges is that grasses have nodes and internodes in their stem and their leaves are two ranked sometime appearing leafless while, sedges do not have nodes and internodes and their leaves are three ranked, flat and W shapes in cross section.

What is Grass?

Grasses are a type of plant characterized by narrow leaves that grow from the base. They first appeared during the mid-Cretaceous period and now comprise around 12,000 species. Grasses belong to poaceae family and the leaves of grasses are 2-ranked (in 2 rows), sometimes appearing leafless.

The sheath of grasses is with overlapping margins or (less often) fused. Ligule is with a flap of tissues at the junction of the sheath and blade not all fused to the blade. Flowers are usually bisexual. its fruit includes grain.

One common use of grass is to cover the ground in areas such as lawns and parks. Typically green in color, grasses are predominantly wind-pollinated, which eliminates the need to attract insects. The green coloration optimizes photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy.

Grasslands, such as savannahs and prairies, where grasses dominate, cover approximately 40.5% of Earth’s land area, excluding Greenland and Antarctica.

Grasses belong to the monocotyledon herbaceous plants group. They include members of the Poaceae family, commonly referred to as grasses by the general public.




What is Sedge?

Sedge plants, scientifically classified as Cyperaceae, form a diverse family of flowering plants. Unlike grasses, with which they are often confused, sedges have solid stems that are typically triangular or polygonal, distinguishing them from their grassy counterparts.

Sedges belong to cyperaceae family and their leaves are 3-ranked 9in 3 rows): Flat W-shaped in cross-section or apparently lacking ( in Eleocharis, Schoenoplectus). The sheath of grasses is with fused margins.

Ligule is with a flap of tissues at the junction of the sheath and blade partly fused to the blade. Palea and lemma is one below each flower. Flower is usually bisexual or unisexual. its fruit is Achene (a hard nutlet).

A notable characteristic of sedges is their grass-like leaves. However, upon closer examination, one can observe that these leaves typically grow in three distinct vertical rows, a feature known as being three-ranked. This unique leaf arrangement contributes to the distinctive appearance of sedges and aids in their identification.

While sedges do produce flowers, their flowering structures differ from those of grasses. Instead of having showy flowers arranged in spikes or panicles, sedges produce small, inconspicuous flowers clustered together in spikelets. These spikelets exhibit intricate variations in shape and size across different species.

Grasses vs Sedges

The primary difference between grasses and sedges is given below:

FeatureGrass (Poaceae Family)Sedge (Cyperaceae Family)
Stem ShapeCylindrical and hollow.Triangular and solid.
Leaf ArrangementAlternately arranged in two ranks.Spirally arranged in three ranks.
Leaf SheathOpenClosed
Fruit TypeCaryopsis (grain), where the fruit’s skin adheres to the seed coat.Achene (small, single-seeded fruit).

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