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Cyperus esculentus - L.

Common Name Tiger Nut, Yellow nutsedge, Nut Grass
Family Cyperaceae
USDA hardiness 8-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Muddy soil and shallow water, also as a weed of cultivated ground in southern Europe[50].
Range Original range is obscure, the plant is a widespread weed from the Tropics to the Temperate zone.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Full sun
Cyperus esculentus Tiger Nut, Yellow nutsedge, Nut Grass

Cyperus esculentus Tiger Nut, Yellow nutsedge, Nut Grass


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cyperus esculentus is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.9 m (3ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Bog Garden; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Oil  Oil  Root
Edible Uses: Coffee  Oil  Oil

Tuber - raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder[2, 4, 55, 62, 85, 95, 183].They are also used in confectionery[183]. A delicious nut-like flavour[1, 61, 183] but rather chewy and with a tough skin[K]. They taste best when dried[27]. They can be cooked in barley water to give them a sweet flavour and then be used as a dessert nut[183]. A refreshing beverage is made by mixing the ground tubers with water, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and ice[183]. The ground up tuber can also be made into a plant milk with water, wheat and sugar[183]. An edible oil is obtained from the tuber. It is considered to be a superior oil that compares favourably with olive oil[183]. The roasted tubers are a coffee substitute[2, 62, 183]. The base of the plant can be used in salads[183]. (This probably means the base of the leaf stems[K])

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Aphrodisiac  Carminative  Digestive  Diuretic  Dysentery  Emmenagogue  Stimulant  Tonic

Tiger nuts are regarded as a digestive tonic, having a heating and drying effect on the digestive system and alleviating flatulence[254]. They also promote urine production and menstruation[254]. The tubers are said to be aphrodisiac, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant and tonic[240, 254]. In Ayurvedic medicine they are used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion, colic, diarrhoea, dysentery, debility and excessive thirst[254].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Oil  Oil  Weaving

The tubers contain up to 30% of a non-drying oil, it is used in cooking and in making soap[57, 74, 117, 141]. It does not solidify at 0°c and stores well without going rancid[74]. The leaves can be used for weaving hats and matting etc[178]. The boiled nuts are used in the UK as a bait for carp.

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a moist sandy loam[95, 117]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[200]. The chufa, or tiger nut, is often cultivated for its edible tuber in warm temperate and tropical zones, there is a cultivated variety, var. sativus, that produces larger tubers[50]. We have had lots of problems with growing this cultivated form. Once the tubers come into growth then they normally grow vigorously, but the difficulty is getting them to come into growth. We harvest the tubers in the autumn and store them in moist sand, replanting them in the spring. However, they rarely come into new growth until mid to late summer which gives them too short a growing season to produce much of a crop[K]. We need to find a satisfactory way of storing the tubers and exciting them back into growth[K]. In warmer climates this plant is a serious weed of cultivation. It is much hardier than was once imagined and is becoming a weed in N. America where it is found as far north as Alaska[95]. The tubers are often formed a metre or more away from the plant, especially if it is growing in a heavy clay soil[159]. The tubers are extremely attractive to mice and require protection from them in the winter[K].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - surface sow in the spring and keep the compost moist[164]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 6 weeks at 18°c[164]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Grow on for their first winter in a greenhouse and plant them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn. This is more a matter of harvesting the tubers and replanting them. If this is done in the autumn, then it is best to store the tubers in a cool frost-free place overwinter and plant them out in the spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Rush nut; tiger nut; yellow nut-grass; yellow nut-sedge; yellow sedge. Spanish: chufa comun; horchata; horchata de chufa. French: amande de terre; souchet comestible; souchet sucré; souchet tubéreux. Chinese: xiang fu zi. Portuguese: junquinha mansa. Angola: olonguesso. Argentina: chufa. Brazil: chufa; junquinho; tiririca; tiririca-amarela. Colombia: conquito. Cuba: chufa. Dominican Republic: coquillo; coquito. Germany: erdmandelgas; Essbaress zypergras. Iran: galee. Italy: cipero dolce; dolcichino; ulvia di padule; zigolo dolce; zizzola terrestri. Japan: syokuyo-gayatsuri. Mexico: cebollin; coquillo amarillo; cotufa; coyolillo; coyolito; peonia; tule; tulillo; zacate de agua. Netherlands: aard-amandel; knolcypergras. Peru: coco. Puerto Rico: chapas. South Africa: geeliuintjie. Thailand: haeo-thai.

Coming Soon

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Listed in the USDA Plants-database as a noxious weed in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. C. esculentus behaves as a weed in almost all temperate, tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Once established, it is extremely difficult to eradicate because plants have a stratified and layered root system, with tubers and roots being interconnected [1d].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Cyperus esculentus (Yellow Nutsedge): Status: Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cyperus aristatusBearded nutsedgePerennial1.5 7-10  LMNMWe202
Cyperus articulatusJointed flatsedge, Priprioca, PiripiriPerennial1.8 10-12 FLMHNMWeWa142
Cyperus cephalotesBhada, Flat Sedges, Nut Sedges or Umbrella Sedge.Perennial0.3 10-12 FLMHNWeWa012
Cyperus distansSlender Cyperus, Piedmont flatsedgePerennial0.5 0-0  LMNMWe112
Cyperus fendlerianusFendler's FlatsedgePerennial1.5 -  LMNMWe202
Cyperus giganteusPiripiri, Mexican PapyrusPerennial1.5 9-11 FLMHNWeWa023
Cyperus longusGalingalePerennial1.2 6-9 FLMHNMWeWa213
Cyperus papyrusPapyrus. Papyrus sedgePerennial5.0 9-12 FLMHNWeWa222
Cyperus rotundusNut GrassPerennial0.6 0-0  LMNMWe332
Cyperus schweinitziiFlatsedge, Schweinitz's flatsedgePerennial0.8 0-0  LMNMWe202
Cyperus setigerusLean flatsedgePerennial1.0 0-0  LMNMWe202
Cyperus tegetiformis Perennial0.0 -  LMNMWe002
Cyperus textilisFlat sedge, Basket grass,Perennial1.5 9-12 FLMHFSNMWeWa004
Cyperus ustulatus Perennial1.2 -  LMNMWe002

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment

Cyperus esculentus

Administrator .

Jan 8 2011 12:00AM

very good presentation! very conducive to education for us who will cultivate this crop in Kachin State of Myanmar. Thank a lot!



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

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Steve Dupey   Mon May 8 2006

Chufa nuts are supposed to contain a sprout inhibitor in their skins which is leached away by very wet conditions, this may be why they dont sprout for you until very late. I had no trouble sprouting mine after soaking them in water for a few days and then keeping them in a warm cupboard...damp towels. They would probably spoout if just left in the water. I have planted the sprouting tubers in pots in the greenhouse...and they are coming up nicely. This is supposed to be a cultivated form, from J.L. Hudson Seedsman, which he claims is not invasive. Other sourcess say that in northern latitudes with cold winters, the tubers cannot survive the winter and therefore are non-invasive in these regions. I would advise careful experimentation with this as a crop though.

David   Thu Dec 14 2006

Global Flora Biotech Biotech Combany in India Supplying Jatrobha Curcas Feeds and Tissue culture Saplings of Orchids and Other Cut Flower Varietiess.

cyndy   Thu Aug 16 2007

this article is really interesting. i want to do a baseline bacteriological survey on tiger nuts. could u help me get more articles on tiger nuts and bacteria? thanks

   Jun 27 2011 12:00AM

I really like the taste of these tubers. They are great when roasted! I can't understand why this tuber hasn't achieved fame. To sprout the tubers takes some time. Soak them on water for 1-2 days, changing water, and then plant them in a good soil. They like humid conditions although can tolerate dry soils (but grow slow). Its also a very nice beautiful plant. Grows perfect in shadow too.

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