Friday, January 22, 2016

Cyperus rotundus

Cyperus rotundus (coco-grass, Java grass, nut grass, purple nut sedge or purple nutsedge, red nut sedge, Khmer kravanh chruk) is a species of sedge (Cyperaceae) native to Africa, southern and central Europe (north to France and Austria), and southern Asia. 

Cyperus rotundus is a perennial plant, that may reach a height of up to 140 cm (55 inches). The names "nut grass" and "nut sedge" – shared with the related species Cyperus esculentus – are derived from its tubers, that somewhat resemble nuts, although botanically they have nothing to do with nuts.
As in other Cyperaceae, the leaves sprout in ranks of three from the base of the plant, around 5–20 cm long. The flower stems have a triangular cross-section. The flower is bisexual and has three stamina and a three-stigma carpel, with the flower head having 3-8 unequal rays. The fruit is a three-angled achene.

The root system of a young plant initially forms white, fleshy rhizomes, up to 25 mm in dimension, in chains. Some rhizomes grow upward in the soil, then form a bulb-like structure from which new shoots and roots grow, and from the new roots, new rhizomes grow. Other rhizomes grow horizontally or downward, and form dark reddish-brown tubers or chains of tubers.

It prefers dry conditions, but will tolerate moist soils, it often grows in wastelands and in crop fields.

C. rotundus was part of a set of starchy tuberous sedges that may have been eaten by Pliocene hominins. It was a staple of Aboriginal populations in Central Australia.
Biomarkers and microscopic evidence of C. rotundus are present in human dental calculus found at the Al Khiday archaeological complex in central Sudan dating from before 6700 BCE to the Meroitic pre-Islamic Kingdom of 300-400 CE. It is suggested that C. rotundus consumption may have contributed to the relatively low frequency of dental caries among the Meroitic population of Al Khiday due to its ability to inhibit Streptococcus mutans.

C. rotundus was employed in ancient Egypt, Mycenean Greece, and elsewhere as an aromatic and to purify water. It was used by ancient Greek physicians Theophrastus, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides as both medicine and perfume.

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