chufa sedge

Cyperus esculentus

''Cyperus esculentus'' is a crop of the sedge family widespread across much of the world. It is native to most of the Western Hemisphere as well as southern Europe, Africa, Madagascar, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. It has become naturalized in many other regions, including Ukraine, China, Hawaii, Indochina, New Guinea, Java, New South Wales and various oceanic islands.

''Cyperus esculentus'' can be found wild, as a weed, or as a crop. There is evidence for its cultivation in Egypt since the sixth millennium BC, and for several centuries in Southern Europe. In Spain, ''C. esculentus'' is cultivated for its edible tubers, called earth almonds or tiger nuts, for the preparation of "horchata de chufa", a sweet, milk-like beverage. However, in most other countries, ''C. esculentus'' is considered a weed.
Yellow nutsedge - Cyperus esculentus https://www.jungledragon.com/image/46161/yellow_nutsedge_-_cyperus_esculentus.html Chufa sedge,Cyperaceae,Cyperus esculentus,Europe,Flowering Plant,Geotagged,Magnoliophyta,Monocot,Nature,Plantae,Poales,Serbia,Summer,Wildlife,Yellow nutsedge,chufa sedge,flower

Appearance

* Sedges have grass-like leaves and resemble each other in the appearance. They can mainly be distinguished from grasses by their triangular stems.
⤷  Purple nutsedge is another weedy sedge that is similar to the yellow nutsedge . These two sedges are difficult to distinguish from each other and can be found growing on the same site. Some differences are the purple spikelets and the tubers formed by ''C.rotondus'' are often multiple instead of just one at the tip. In addition the tubers have a bitter taste instead of the mild almond - like flavour of ''C.esculentus''.
Yellow nutsedge - Cyperus esculentus https://www.jungledragon.com/image/46160/yellow_nutsedge_-_cyperus_esculentus.html Chufa sedge,Cyperaceae,Cyperus esculentus,Europe,Flowering Plant,Geotagged,Magnoliophyta,Monocot,Nature,Plantae,Poales,Serbia,Summer,Wildlife,Yellow nutsedge,chufa sedge,flower

Naming

* Sedges have grass-like leaves and resemble each other in the appearance. They can mainly be distinguished from grasses by their triangular stems.
⤷  Purple nutsedge is another weedy sedge that is similar to the yellow nutsedge . These two sedges are difficult to distinguish from each other and can be found growing on the same site. Some differences are the purple spikelets and the tubers formed by ''C.rotondus'' are often multiple instead of just one at the tip. In addition the tubers have a bitter taste instead of the mild almond - like flavour of ''C.esculentus''.

Behavior

''C. esculentus'' is an annual or perennial plant, growing to 90 cm tall, with solitary stems growing from a tuber. The plant is reproduced by seeds, creeping rhizomes, and tubers. Due to its clonal nature, ''C. esculentus'' can take advantage of soil disturbances caused by anthropogenic or natural forces. The stems are triangular in section and bear slender leaves 3–10 mm wide. The spikelets of the plant are distinctive, with a cluster of flat, oval seeds surrounded by four hanging, leaf-like bracts positioned 90 degrees from each other. They are 5 to 30 mm long and linear to narrowly elliptic with pointed tips and 8 to 35 florets. The color varies from straw-colored to gold-brown. They can produce up to 2420 seeds per plant. The plant foliage is very tough and fibrous and is often mistaken for a grass. The roots are an extensive and complex system of fine, fibrous roots and scaly rhizomes with small, hard, spherical tubers and basal bulbs attached. The tubers are 0.3 – 1.9 cm in diameter and the colors vary between yellow, brown, and black. One plant can produce several hundred to several thousand tubers during a single growing season. With cool temperatures, the foliage, roots, rhizomes, and basal bulbs die, but the tubers survive and resprout the following spring when soil temperatures remain above 6 °C . They can resprout up to several years later. When the tubers germinate, many rhizomes are initiated and end in a basal bulb near the soil surface. These basal bulbs initiate the stems and leaves above ground, and fibrous roots underground. ''C. esculentus'' is wind pollinated and requires cross pollination as it is self–incompatible.

Food

The tubers are edible, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavour, compared to the more bitter-tasting tuber of the related ''Cyperus rotundus'' . They are quite hard and are generally soaked in water before they can be eaten, thus making them much softer and giving them a better texture. They are a popular snack in West Africa, where they are known as ''ncɔkɔn'' in the languages Bamanankan or Dyula.

They have various uses; in particular, they are used in Spain to make horchata. “Horchata” is a nonalcoholic beverage of milky appearance derived from the tubers of the tiger nut plant mixed with sugar and water. It has a great economic impact in the Valencian region of Spain.

Flour of roasted tiger nut is sometimes added to biscuits and other bakery products as well as in making oil, soap, and starch extracts. It is also used for the production of nougat, jam, beer, and as a flavoring agent in ice cream and in the preparation of kunnu . Kunnu is a nonalcoholic beverage prepared mainly from cereals by heating and mixing with spices and sugar. To make up for the poor nutritional value of kunnu prepared from cereals, tiger nut was found to be a good substitute for cereal grains. Tiger nut oil can be used naturally with salads or for deep frying. It is considered to be a high quality oil. Tiger nut “milk” has been tried as an alternative source of milk in fermented products, such as yogurt production, and other fermented products common in some African countries and can thus be useful replacing milk in the diet of people intolerant to lactose to a certain extent.
Tiger nuts should be eaten in only moderate amounts at any one time. Ingestion of 300 g of the fibrous dehydrated nuts, chewed without being rehydrated, has been known to cause rectal impaction.

Evolution

It has been suggested that the extinct hominin ''Paranthropus boisei'', the "Nutcracker Man," subsisted on tiger nuts.

Prehistoric tools with traces of ''C. esculentus'' tuber starch granules have been recovered from the early Archaic period in North America, from about 9,000 years ago, at the Sandy Hill excavation site at the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Connecticut. The tubers are believed to have been a source of food for those Paleo-Indians.

Zohary and Hopf estimate that ''C. esculentus'' "ranks among the oldest cultivated plants in Ancient Egypt." Although noting that "Chufa was no doubt an important food element in ancient Egypt during dynastic times, its cultivation in ancient times seems to have remained an Egyptian specialty." Its dry tubers have been found in tombs from predynastic times about 6000 years ago. In those times, ''C. esculentus'' tubers were consumed either boiled in beer, roasted, or as sweets made of ground tubers with honey. The tubers were also used medicinally, taken orally, as an ointment, or as an enema, and used in fumigants to sweeten the smell of homes or clothing. There are almost no contemporary records of this plant in other parts of the old World.

Besides Egypt, at present ''C. esculentus'' is cultivated mainly in Spain, where it is extended for common commercial purposes in mild climate areas. The plant was introduced by the Arabs, first in the Valencia region. They are found extensively too in California and were grown by the Paiute in Owens Valley.
''C. esculentus'' is also cultivated in countries like Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Brasil, United States, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, India, Yemen, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Sudan, South Sudan, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Northern Cameroon and Mali, where they are used primarily as animal feed or uncooked as a side dish, but in Hispanic countries they are used mainly to make horchata, a sweet, milk-like beverage.
In Northern Nigeria it is called 'Aya' and it is usually eaten fresh. It is sometimes dried and later rehydrated and eaten. Also a snack is made by toasting the nuts and sugar coating it is popular among the Hausa children of Northern Nigeria. Also, a drink known as 'Kunun Aya' is made by processing the nuts with dates and later sieved and served chilled.

Uses

Dried tiger nut has a smooth tender, sweet and nutty taste. It can be consumed raw, roasted, dried, baked or as tiger nut milk or oil.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Taxonomy
KingdomPlantae
DivisionAngiosperms
ClassMonocots
OrderPoales
FamilyCyperaceae
GenusCyperus
SpeciesC. esculentus
Photographed in
Serbia