Chlorocyperus aureus (K.Richt.) Palla ex Kneuck.
Chlorocyperus phymatodes (Muhl.) Palla
Cyperus aureus Ten.
Cyperus aureus esculentus (L.) Nyman
Cyperus bahiensis Steud.
Cyperus bulamensis Steud.
Cyperus callistus Ridl.
Cyperus chrysostachys Boeckeler
Cyperus damiettensis A.Dietr.
Cyperus fulvescens Liebm.
Cyperus gracilescens Schult.
Cyperus gracilis Link
Cyperus heermannii Buckley
Cyperus helodes Schrad. ex Nees
Cyperus hydra Kunth
Cyperus lutescens Torr. & Hook.
Cyperus melanorhizus Delile
Cyperus nervosus Bertol.
Cyperus officinalis T.Nees
Cyperus pallidus Savi
Cyperus phymatodes Muhl.
Cyperus repens Elliott
Cyperus ruficomus Buckley
Cyperus sieberianus Link
Cyperus tenoreanus Schult. & Schult.f.
Cyperus tenorei C.Presl
Cyperus tuberosus Pursh
Cyperus variabilis Salzm. ex Steud.
Pterocyperus esculentus (L.) Opiz
Pycreus esculentus (L.) Hayek
Common Name: Tiger Nut
Photograph by: Marco Schmidt
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Cyperus esculentus is a perennial grass-like plant producing solitary culms 10 - 90cm tall from numerous, spreading, underground stolons. The apex of the stolons swells to form ellipsoid to globose tubers 10 - 18mm long[
The plant is sometimes cultivated commercially for its edible tuber in the warm temperate to tropical zones. It also has a range of other local uses, for food, medicine and craft material.
Cyperus esculentus is cosmopolitan in distribution with no major threats. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
In warm climates Cyperus esculentus is a serious weed of cultivation. It has been labelled, along with Cyperus rotundus, as the world's worst weed![
]. 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[
Original range is obscure, the plant is a widespread weed from the Tropics to the Temperate zone
Muddy soil and shallow water, also as a weed of cultivated ground in southern Europe[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Cyperus esculentus is native to the subtropical and tropical zones, extending into the temperate zone in some regions, especially N. America. In the tropics it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres, but is found at much lower elevations in cooler climates. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 14 - 26°c, but can tolerate 4 - 30°c[
]. Top growth can be killed by temperatures of -2°c or lower, but the tubers are able to overwinter in the ground even though the soil may freeze[
]. The tubers are hardy to about -15°c[
]. The plant prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 1,000mm, but tolerates 300 - 1,700mm[
Succeeds in full sun and also in light shade[
]. Prefers a moist sandy loam[
], but can succeed in most soils[
]. Plants can tolerate occasional inundation of the soil[
]. Prefers a Ph in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[
There can be problems growing this species in cooler climates. Once the tubers come into growth then they normally grow vigorously, but the difficulty can be in 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[
]. We need to find a satisfactory way of storing the tubers and exciting them back into growth[
Mature tubers can be harvested 90 - 120 days from planting[
There is a cultivated variety, var. sativus, that produces larger tubers[
The tubers are often formed a metre or more away from the plant, especially if it is growing in a heavy clay soil[
The tubers are extremely attractive to mice and require protection from them in the winter[
Tuber - raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder[
].They are also used in confectionery[
]. A delicious nut-like flavour[
] but rather chewy and with a tough skin[
]. They taste best when dried[
]. They can be cooked in barley water to give them a sweet flavour and then be used as a dessert nut[
]. A refreshing beverage is made by mixing the ground tubers with water, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla and ice[
]. The ground up tuber can also be made into a plant milk with water, wheat and sugar[
An edible oil is obtained from the tuber. It is considered to be a superior oil that compares favourably with olive oil[
The roasted tubers are a coffee substitute[
The inner base of the young stems can be used in salads[
Tiger nuts are regarded as a digestive tonic, having a heating and drying effect on the digestive system and alleviating flatulence[
]. They also promote urine production and menstruation[
The tubers are said to be aphrodisiac, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant and tonic[
]. In Ayurvedic medicine they are used in the treatment of flatulence, indigestion, colic, diarrhoea, dysentery, debility and excessive thirst[
The tubers contain up to 30% of a non-drying oil, it is used in cooking and in making soap[
]. It does not solidify at 0°c and stores well without going rancid[
An extract of the tubers is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin protector[
The leaves can be used for weaving hats and matting etc[
Seed - surface sow in the spring and keep the compost moist[
]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 6 weeks at 18°c[
]. 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.