Nature Lab

By Dianne Van Dien | August 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: August 2022

Resource Science

Lean Flatsedge Restoration

Although more common in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas, lean flatsedge (Cyperus setiger) has been documented only a few times in Missouri. It was first found in 1915 in Jackson County, then not seen again until 1995 in Boone County. In 2019 another small population was discovered at Tucker Prairie in Callaway County.

“When lean flatsedge was discovered in 1995,” says State Botanist Malissa Briggler, “it was the only known population in Missouri and it was in a tricky place to manage because it was in a ditch off I-70.”

Maintaining the diversity of plants and animals in the state is one of MDC’s priorities, so the department reached out to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) about the lean flatsedge along the interstate.

“MODOT was very cooperative in helping us,” says Briggler. “We asked them to only mow at certain times, and that helped the population to flourish.”

Because future highway needs could put these plants in harm’s way, MDC scientists took action to establish lean flatsedge in other locations, but those early attempts were not successful. Then in 2015, MDC began a new project to relocate lean flatsedge to Prairie Fork Conservation Area (CA). Researchers dug up rhizomes (underground rootlike stems) from the I-70 plants, propagated them in a greenhouse, and planted the sedges in three locations at Prairie Fork CA. The process was repeated three years in a row.

About 50 percent of the transplants have survived and those plants are spreading outward. “It’s getting difficult to tell the individual plants now and who started where because they’ve expanded so much,” Briggler says. And this is good news — it means the new population is off to a strong start.

Lean Flatsedge Restoration at a Glance


Establish a population of lean flatsedge at Prairie Fork Conservation Area from rhizomes gathered from the site along I-70.

MDC Partners:

MODOT, Lincoln University

  • Rhizomes are dug up in clumps, washed, and separated.
  • Rhizomes are planted in cone containers and grown in a greenhouse.
  • Rhizomes are planted in the fall and the location of each is marked with a nail.
  • Staff monitor plant growth and use a metal detector to find locations of nails where plants did not grow.

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation Manager - Laura Scheuler