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Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves usually with elongate, linear or lanceolate blades and closed sheaths. Inflorescence paniculate, elongate, consisting of a terminal partial inflorescence and 1-several axillary ones, but often much reduced. Flowers hermaphrodite, the upper ones tabescent. Stamens (2-)3.


Asia-Tropical, Tropical Africa present, tropical America present, warm regions of the globe present
About 30 spp. in the warm regions of the globe, most of them in tropical Africa and tropical America; in Malesia only 2 spp.


Both Malesian spp. belong to sect. Fuirena.
This section is characterized by the 3 broad, petal-shaped hypogynous scales often alternating with 3 hypogynous bristles. The most acceptable interpretation of these bristles and scales is that they represent the perianth. This was already accepted by LESTIBOUDOIS (), and since BENTHAM () advocated it, by most modern authors. NEES (), assuming that the stamens were inserted below bristles and scales, took the latter two for staminodes, whereas BOECKELER, l.c., was of the opinion that only the scales should be interpreted as such.
The delimitation of the genus against Scirpus is very difficult, as in several extra-Malesian spp. the perianth- segments are either all bristly or lacking, like in Scirpus; on the other hand they are flat and petal-like in Scirpus litoralis, recalling the scales of Fuirena sect. Fuirena. The noded, leafy stems and the dark, aristate, hairy glumes, in some way also characteristic of Fuirena, are likewise found in some species of Scirpus.


BOECK. 1871 – In: Linnaea. p 98
Clarke 1908: Kew Bull. p 115
KUNTH 1837 – In: En. p 180
B. & H. 1883 – In: Gen. Pl. p 1053