Cladium (Fen-sedge, Sawgrass or Twig-sedge) is a genus of large sedges, with a world-wide distribution in tropical and temperate regions. These are plants characterized by long, narrow (grass-like) leaves having sharp, often serrated (sawtooth-like) margins, and flowering stems 1-3 m tall bearing a much-branched inflorescence. Species The number of species is disputed, with different authors accepting between two and 60 species as distinct. The following is a selection of species.
C. jamaicense is common throughout the tropical Americas, one typical and well-known area of extensive saw-grass growth is the Florida Everglades; saw-grass is the plant referred to by the descriptor, "River of Grass". Across the Everglades, C. jamaicense occurs in patches of dense growth surrounded by areas of very sparse growth. Because of the sharp, saw-like serrulations on the blades, dense beds of saw-grass can be dangerous to attempt to navigate through (the blades easily cut flesh). Consequently, the dense saw-grass beds harbor little animal life, but (in the Everglades) are the habitat used by alligators to build nests (Lodge, 1994). It is also considered to be indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands, where it dominates a considerable portion of the largest marsh in Hawai‘i, Kawai Nui Marsh.
Sawgrass may be useful as a source for developing biofuel (ethanol), possibly replacing corn as the cellulose (the basis for developing ethanol) source of choice. Studies on switchgrass, a prairie plant which should not be mistaken for sawgrass, demonstrate that, since it is such a laborless crop to grow, it yields 540% of the energy used to harvest, and process it into ethanol. It is also carbon neutral, absorbing about the same amount of greenhouse gases while it's growing as it emits when burned as fuel.