This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(ancient Greek name). Cyperdceae. A large genus of the sedge family, inhabiting both tropical and temperate regions. The species in cult, are all perennials from rootstocks or tubers: leaves grass-like: stem simple and mostly naked above: flowers perfect, without perianth, borne in small, compressed spikes, which are variously aggregated in compound umbels, the latter surrounded by foliaceous bracts; styles and stamens 3. - A few are cult, in jardinieres, aquatic gardens and aquaria. Several others are pests in cult, fields. P. 3567.
a. Based leaves much reduced or wanting.
b. Umbel-rays nearly 100, much longer than the 3-10 involucral Ivs.
(Papyrus Antiquorum, Willd.). Egyptian Paper Plant. Papyrus. Cespitose, strict, tall and stout, 4-8 ft. high: stem obtusely 3-angled, smooth: involucral Ivs. only 3-10, small, 3-6 in. long, 3-12 lines wide, lanceolate, acute: primary rays of the umbel very numerous, slender, furrowed, equal and drooping, 10-20 in. long; secondary bracts prominent, filiform, 1-6 in. long; spikelets clustered and sessile, pale chestnut; scales obtuse, rachis strongly winged. Egypt, Palestine. Gn. 30, p. 348; 57, p. 105. G.M. 40:799. G.W. 2, p. 571. - For aquaria and damp soil. Not hardy N.
bb. Umbel-rays 25 or less.
c. Involucral Ivs. very numerous, somewhat separated, much exceeding the umbel; rachis scarcely winged.
d. Scales broadly ovate: Ivs. scabrous throughout.
Rhizome horizontal, sto-loniferous, stout: stem stout, spongy at base, 2-4 ft. high, obtusely angled: involucral Ivs. 15-25, 2-8 lines wide, 6-16 in. long, strongly nerved or plicate: umbel lax, about a third as long as involucre; spikelets very numerous, elliptic-oblong, very flat, lustrous, 2 1/2-3 1/2 lines long; scales firm, lustrous, scarcely striate, cari-nate, barely acute, closely imbricated, pale brown with dark brown area on each side. Africa - Rare in American trade. Tall and palm-like; used by the natives for wickerwork; very ornamental in water-gardens.
dd. Scales lanceolate: Ivs. scabrous only at apex.
Umbrella Plant. Umbrella Palm. Fig. 1193. Cespitose, strict, 1-4 ft. high: stem nearly terete, ribbed, smooth and slender: involucral Ivs. about 20, spreading or slightly drooping, linear, 4-8 in. long, 2-5 lines wide, plain: umbel open; rays only 1-3 in. long; spikelets numerous, ovate-lanceolate acute, very flat, 2 lines long, pale brown suffused with darker brown, dull; scales thin, very acute, somewhat nerved. Madagascar. - Much used for aquaria and jardinieres. Gn. 35, p. 573. A.G. 17:57. V. 4:159; 5:39. variety variegatus, Hort. stem and Ivs. striated with white, sometimes entirely white. variety gracilis, Hort. Plant smaller and more slender: involucral Ivs. much narrower and shorter, and not so spreading. - The above description is from Boeckeler, and from a specimen from Madagascar. The plant in cult, under the name C. alternifolius may not be that species. The Ivs. are too long, too scabrous and too veiny; and the spikelets are elliptic-oval, or oval, 2 lines long, and have broader and more closely overlapping scales than in the typical form.
The illustrations cited are probably of the garden plant.
Fig. 1193. Cyperus alternifolius or umbrella plant.
CC. Involucral Ivs. about 3, contiguous, shorter than umbel; rachis strongly winged.
Rhizome long, stout and hard, 2 lines thick, scaly: stem solitary, 2-3 ft. high, the size of a goose-quill, triangular: Ivs. 2-6 in. long, often wanting; involucral Ivs. 3, only 1-3 in. long: umbel rather dense; spikelets 5-9 (rarely 12) lines long, linearlanceolate, scarcely compressed, rigid; scales obtuse, not carinate, nerved, shining, pale or brownish. Natal. -Decorative. Not hardy.
aa. Basal Ivs. well developed.
B. stems very short, 3-5 in. high: umbel-rays up to 2 ft. long, weak, decumbent.
Roots fibrous: Ivs. numerous, about equaling the stem, 3-7 lines broad, margins strongly scabrous; involucral Ivs. 6-7, short: rays flaccid, pendulous, often rooting at apex; spikelets few, ochraceous or olive, oblong or oblong-lanceolate, obtuse, slightly compressed, 8-10-flowered, 3-4 lines long; scales obtuse, nerved. W. Africa G.W. 8, p. 523. - Recently introduced, and excellent for hanging-baskets. The umbel-rays often bear plantlets instead of spikelets.
bb. stems longer than the umbel-rays.
C. Rachis of spikelet wingless: scales broad, much overlapping, acute or mucronate: spikelets lanceolate or lance-oblong.
D. Involucral bracts 2-6 lines broad, about 6-12 in number.
(C. elegans, Hort. C. Iaxus, Hort.). Roots fibrous: stem solitary, 1-3 ft. high: basal Ivs. many; equaling the stem, 2-7 lines broad; margin scabrous; involucral Ivs. 4-15 in. long, 2-6 lines broad, longer than the infloresence: umbel diffuse; spikelets greenish yellow or pale brown, linear oblong or ovate-lanceolate, 3-8 lines long; scales loose, soft, dull; midrib deeply striate, cuspidate. Tropics. G.C. II. 1874:99; III. 13: 41. - For table decoration. As now interpreted, C. elegans, Linn., is a more rigid plant with narrower Ivs.
dd. Involucral bracts 1 1/2 lines broad, or less, 3-6 in number.
E. Leaves flaccid: infloresence usually open; spikelets very flat; scales l 1/2 lines long.
Roots fibrous: stem cespitose, 2-16 in. nigh: leaves 2-3, slightly shorter than the stem, scabrous only near apex: umbel of several pedunculate, sessile heads, or reduced to 1 sessile head; spikelets lance-oblong or lance-linear, 4-12 lines long; scales soft, carinate, acuminate, striate close. Tropics. - Cult, in Eu.
ee. Leaves rigid: infloresence congested; spikelets thicker; scales 2 1/2 lines long.
Roots of coarse lanate fibers: stem 6-20 in. high, stiff, terete above: leaves several, with conspicuous, loose, brownish sheaths, equaling the stem
Or shorter, narrow, 1/2 to 3/4 lines broad, thick and rigid: umbel congested, often simple; spikelets 5-9 lines long, lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, pale brown; scales firm, with thin margins, obscurely carinate, inconspicuously striate, apiculate; midrib obscure, close. N. Africa and S. W. Asia. - By some authors united with C. conglom-eratus, Rottb., under the latter name. There is some reason to suspect that the plant in the trade under this name may not be this species.
cc. Rachis of spikelet with scarious, winged margin; scales obtuse or obtusish, less overlapping: spikelets linear.
d. Leaves thick, glossy.
Br. Rhizomes short and thick: stems stout, 2-3 ft. or even 4 ft. high, sharply 3-angled: leaves equaling the stem or longer, 3-6 lines wide, margins scabrous; involucral leaves 3-6, the lower very broad, often l 1/2-3 ft. long: umbel large, lax, compound; rays many, 9 in. long or less; spikelets spicate, rich deep brown, lustrous, linear, flattish, acute, 4-6 (rarely 7-8) lines long; wings of rachis narrow; scales loosely imbricated, few-nerved, 2 lines long. Austral.
dd. Leaves thinner, duller.
e. Rootstock long, stout, 2-2 1/2 lines thick.
stems 2-4 ft. high, acutely angled, stoutish: leaves several, with long sheaths, about equaling the culm 2-4 lines wide; margins finely scabrous; involucral bracts very long, often 8-24 in.: umbel lax, the rays 12 in. or less long; spikelets 3-15 lines long, linear, dull, dark chestnut-brown, rarely paler, slightly compressed; scales 1 1/4-l 1/2 lines long, scarcely carinate, obscurely striate; midrib green. Eu. - Cult, in Eu.
ee. Rootstock long, slender, tuber-bearing. F. Scales dark reddish brown.
Nut-Grass. Coco-Grass. Rootstocks 1/4 line thick: stems 4-24 in. high, bulbous, thickened at the base, rather slender, 3-angled: leaves several, usually shorter than the stem, only 1-2 (rarely 3) lines wide; margins finely scabrous; involucral bracts 2-4, scarcely longer than the infloresence: umbel lax; rays few, 4 in. long or less; spikelets linear, 5-12 lines long, inconspicuously spicate on the branches, few in a cluster, dull; scales 1 1/4 lines long, scarcely striate, obscurely carinate; midrib green: achenes linear, acute. Tropics and sub tropics. - A weed southward.
ff. Scales brownish chestnut or stramineous.
Chufa. Fig. 1194; also Fig. 959. stem 8 in. to 3 ft. high, stoutish: leaves several, equaling the stem or slightly shorter, rarely longer, 2-4 lines wide; involucral leaves exceeding the infloresence: umbel open; rays 1/2-4 in. long; spikelets very numerous, spicate on the branches, crowded, divaricate, brownish stramineous, linear, 4-12 lines long, scarcely compressed; scales lax, several-nerved, dull, rarely carinate; midrib somewhat green: achenes oblong, obtuse. Tropics and sub-tropics. - A weed in sandy cult, fields northward and southward; rarely grown for the edible tubers.
Fig. 1194. Cyperus esculentus. - Chufa.
eee. Rootstock globular: spikelets stramineous.
Running rootstocks absent, not tuber-bearing: stems rather stout, 1-3 ft. high, sharply 3-angled; base bulbous: leaves numerous, usually equaling the stem, 2-4 lines wide, more or less scabrous; involucral bracts 6-12 in. long, usually exceeding the infloresence: umbel open, rays several, 6 in. long or less; spikelets very numerous, spicate on the branches, crowded, divaricate, linear-subulate, 5-8 lines long, scarcely compressed; scales 1 1/2 to 2 lines long, appressed, dull, striate; midrib green. N. Amer. - Hardy perennial, used for the border of aquatic gardens, k. M. Wiegand.