Herb: Nut Grass

Latin name: Cyperus rotundus

Synonyms: Cyperus hexastachyos, Pycreus rotundus

Family: Cyperaceae (Sedge Family)

Medicinal use of Nut Grass:

Nut grass is a pungent bitter-sweet herb that relieves spasms and pain, acting mainly on the digestive system and uterus. The roots and tubers are analgesic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, antitussive, aromatic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, litholytic, sedative, skin, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge. They are used internally in the treatment of digestive problems and menstrual complaints. They are commonly combined with black pepper (Piper nigrum) in the treatment of stomachaches. The roots are harvested in the summer or winter and are dried for later use. An essential oil in the tubers has antibiotic activity and has been shown to arrest the growth of Micrococcus pyrogenes. The plant is rated 8th amongst 250 potential antifertility plants in China. The plant is used in the treatment of cervical cancer.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Roadsides, sandy fields and cultivated ground in Eastern North America. Plants are usually only found in damp places.

Edible parts of Nut Grass:

Tuber - raw or cooked. A very strong flavour when freshly harvested, said to resemble "Vick's VapoRub", the tubers become milder if they are allowed to dry. A pleasant nutty flavour according to another report whilst another says that the roots are very unpalatable raw and a little better but still not very palatable when cooked. The dried roots can be ground into a powder and used as a cereal. Seed. A famine food, used when all else fails. It is very small and would be fiddly to use.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves are used in basketry and for weaving hats, matting etc. The aromatic root is used for perfumery in India. When dried and ground into a fine powder it is used like talcum powder.

Propagation of Nut Grass:

Seed - surface sow in the spring and keep the compost moist. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 6 weeks at 18C. 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. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Roadsides, sandy fields and cultivated ground in Eastern North America. Plants are usually only found in damp places.

Known hazards of Cyperus rotundus:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.