This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol5-6", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
This maritime sedge is not represented in any of the early deposits in Great Britain. To-day it is to be found in the North Temperate Zone in Europe, South of France and Germany, and in North Africa. In Great Britain it is found on the coasts of West Cornwall, N. Somerset, South Wilts, Dorset, Isle of Wight, East Kent, Pembroke, and the Channel Islands.
This plant is a maritime species, which is very rare, and only found in the above counties growing in marshes by the sea, and not ever far inland.
Galingale has a characteristic appearance from its umbelled spikes. The rootstock is creeping. The stems are erect, few, slender, 3-sided, with many leaves below. The leaves are not numerous, spreading. There are 3 bracts below the rays of flowers, like the leaves but unequal, thickened below.
The flowers are borne on a twice-compound umbel, with linear rays again becoming umbellate, both general and partial involucres, or whorls of leaflike organs, being long and unequal. The spikelets are linear-lance-shaped, curved, in two rows, flattened, with reddish-brown glumes, with green keel or midrib, and paler margins. The stigmas soon fall.
Galingale is 2-3 ft. high. Flowers are open in July. Galingale is a perennial, propagated by means of suckers.
The flowers are bisexual. There are 1-3 stamens, the styles deciduous, not swollen at the base, and there are 2-3 stigmas. The embryo is embedded in endosperm. The flowers, like other Cyperaceae, are anemophilous, but insect visits are not excluded.
Photo. H. Irving - Galingale (Cyperus longus, L.)
Cyperus, Theophrastus, is from the Greek for a kind of rush, and the second Latin name means long. Galingale is called Cypress, Cypress-root, Galangal.
The roots are eatable, aromatic, bitter, and were formerly used as a medicine.
Essential Specific Characters: 318. Cyperus longus, L. - Stem triquetrous, tall, leaves lanceolate, flowers in umbels, lax, glumes red with a green keel.