An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the August 14, 2011 Newsletter issued from written at Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 kms north of Mahahual, Quintana Roo, México

Where the paved road between Mahahual and Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve cuts through a swamp, at the foot of a levee a bare area was populated with hundreds of the 1½-ft-high, white-topped, grasslike plants seen below:

White Star-Sedge, RHYNCHOSPORA COLORATA, colony

A close-up showing a slender stem atop which a cluster of white flower heads is subtended by several stiff, downward pointing, green but white-based modified leaves, or involucral bracts, is shown below:


A closer look at the flowers themselves is seen below:

White Star-Sedge, RHYNCHOSPORA COLORATA, flowers

Like last week's Sawgrass, which wasn't a grass, this is a member of the big Sedge Family, the Cyperaceae. It's RHYNCHOSPORA COLORATA, and since it's native from the southeastern US south through Mexico and the West Indies to northern South America, and it's attractive and interesting enough to catch people's attention, it goes by several English names, including White Star Sedge, Star Sedge, White-topped Sedge and Starrush Whitetop. The species is adapted for living on wet- tending sand in meadowy swales and marsh edges, usually on soils tending to be neutral or basic in pH.

Gardeners in the US Southeast welcome White Star Sedge into their bog and water gardens, and any frequently watered regular garden.