Cyperus bulbosus Vahl. Cyperaceae.
Africa and East Indies. Drury says the roots are used as flour in times of scarcity in India and are eaten roasted or boiled, tasting like potatoes. Royle says they are palatable.
South Europe and north Africa; introduced in America and now runs wild on the banks of the Delaware and other rivers from Pennsylvania to Carolina. The roots are very sweet and are eaten by children. The chufa was distributed from the United States Patent Office in 1854 and has received a spasmodic culture in gardens. It is much cultivated in southern Europe, Asia and Africa, becoming of importance at Valence, in Galicia, and in the environs of Rosetta and Damietta, Egypt. In Hungary, it is grown for the seeds, to be used as a coffee substitute, but in general for its tubers which are sweet, nutty and palatable. These bulbs, says Bryant, are greatly esteemed in Italy and some parts of Germany and are frequently brought to table by way of dessert. At Constantinople, the tubers appear in the markets and are eaten raw or made into a conserve. Gerarde, 1633, speaks of their extensive use in Italy, and of their being hawked about the streets and, at Verona, eaten as dainties. They now appear in the English markets under the name of Zulu nuts. The chufa must also have been esteemed in ancient times, for tubers have been found in Egyptian tombs of the twelfth dynasty, or from 2200 to 2400 years before Christ. Notwithstanding the long continued culture of this plant, there are no varieties described.
Cyperus papyrus Linn. Papyrus.
Sicily, Syria and tropical Africa. This plant is the ancient papyrus. Hogg says it was used as food by the ancients, who chewed it either raw, boiled or roasted, for the sake of its sweet juice.
Cyperus rotundus Linn. Nut Grass.
Cosmopolitan. The tubers are eaten by the North American Indians.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.