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Annuals, or perennial herbs with short, rarely creeping rhizome. Leaves linear, all basal, or also a few in the lower part of the stems, often cellular-reticulate above, those of the flowering stems not rarely reduced to bladeless or short-bladed sheaths; Inflorescence terminal (very rarely pseudolateral because of the erect lowest bract seemingly continuing the stem), often anthelate (terminal spikelet or cluster overtopped by the lateral ones), simple or more or less compound, not rarely subcapitate or capitate by suppression of the rays, or con- sisting of a single spikelet. Flowers bisexual (the uppermost of the spikelet often tabescent), naked (hypo- gynous bristles or scales absent). Stamens 1-3;


Asia-Tropical: Jawa (Jawa present); New Guinea presentpresent; Thailand (Thailand presentpresent), Bengal present, E. Malesia present, Indo-China — Kangean present, N. Sumatra present, Pantropical present, S. and SE. Asia present, tropical Australia present, tropics of both hemispheres, but with some species extending to the warmer parts of the temperate regions present
Large genus with some hundreds of species, chiefly in the tropics of both hemispheres, but with some species extending to the warmer parts of the temperate regions. In Malesia 78 spp.; unlike in Cyperus only a small number of them (8) is pantropical. The number of endemic spp. is relatively high (17), but their distribution is usually inadequately known. The vast majority of the Malesian spp. is widely distributed in S. and SE. Asia, several extending to tropical Australia. Australian elements extending to E. Malesia are F. schultzii, F. recta, F. furva, F. lanceolata, F. signata, and F. acicularis.
Very disjunct areas are shown by F. dictyocolea (Thailand and Indo-China — New Guinea), F. adenolepis (Thailand and Indo-China — Kangean), F. intonsa (Bengal — N. Sumatra — New Guinea), and F. semarangensis (Indo-China — Java). Future collections may fill some of these gaps.


The genus has but little economic value. Some species are used for matting; F. globulosa is sometimes cultivated for that purpose. The foliage of F. dichotoma and F. littoralis furnishes a rather good cattle-fodder.


VAHL, the founder of the genus, segregated from Scirpus only those species with spirally arranged glumes, and flat, ciliate, distigmatic, deciduous style with enlarged base. For the species with the same flower- structure but distichous glumes he created the genus Abildgaardia; the tristigmatic species were left in Scirpus. Already ROBERT BROWN recognised the deciduous style articulated with the nut as the essential character of the genus, and added several tristigmatic Australian species. This extension of the genus was carried through by KUNTH for the extra-Australian species. NEES tried to revive LESTIBOUDOIS' genus Trichelostylis comprising the tristigmatic species, but he was never followed.
ASA GRAY, BENTHAM, and recently KOYAMA, merged Bulbostylis into Fimbristylis. To me Bulbostylis is morphologically as well circumscribed as many other Cyperaceous genera. , who investigated the embryos of 45 Fimbristylis spp. and 19 Bulbostylis spp., found that, with a few exceptions in Fimbristylis, the embryos of the two genera are of a different type, another reason for keeping Bulbostylis apart. In a few Fimbristylis spp. the embryo is a variant of the Bulbostylis type, and of those species the systematic place is indeed disputable also on other grounds (see F. hispidula). The embryo of F. thouarsii differs essentially from both the Fimbristylis and Bulbostylis types. As also the eucyperoid anatomical structure and the articulated rachilla are not found elsewhere in the genus, it may be better to reinstate the genus Actinoschoenus, probably also comprising F. yunnanensis, of which anatomical structure and embryo-type are as yet unknown.
The species with a single terminal spikelet, and especially F. tetragona with greatly reduced leaves, are often taken for Eleocharis spp. The genus Eleocharis differs from Fimbristylis by the presence of hypogynous bristles and by the persistent style-base forming a button on the nut.
The spikelets of Fimbristylis spp. with distichous glumes strongly resemble those of Cyperus. In the latter genus the style is not articulated with the ovary.
Probably due to the attack of a parasite the spikelets of F. dura, F. globulosa, and F.dichotoma are sometimes comose by the strongly elongated, sterile upper glumes (see ). F. germainii CAMUS was based on such abnormal specimens of F. dichotoma.
In outline the subdivision of the genus accepted below agrees with that of OHWI in . A natural classification has not been attained. In some of the tristigmatic species the number of stigmas is often reduced to two (F. cymosa, F. globulosa, F. sericea, and to a lesser extent F. pauciflora and F. schultzii). Distigmatic F. scaberrima has been placed next to tristigmatic F. dura, to which it shows affinity in almost every respect. The arrangement of the glumes in sect. Abildgaardia and sect. Fuscae is sometimes not clearly distichous.


PAX 1887 – In: E. & P., Pfl. Fam. 2: 113
OHWI 1944 – In: Mem. Coll. Sc. Kyoto Imp. Un. B: 52
B. & H. 1883 – In: Gen. Pl.: 1048
STEUD. 1855 – In: Syn.: 106
VAHL 1874 – In: Linnaea: 384
Clarke 1908 – In: Kew Bull.: 107
Miq. 1856 – In: Fl. Ind. Bat.: 314
BOECK. 1871 – In: Linnaea: 2
KOYAMA 1961 – In: J. Fac. Sc. Un. Tokyo: 99
KERN 1955 – In: Blumea: 10
KUNTH 1837 – In: En.: 220