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Cyperus articulatus

Category: Medicines - plant based



Introduction and description


Cyperus articulatus Linnaeus, is a species of sedge known by the common names jointed flatsedge, Guineau rush, Adrue and Priprioca.

As no one common name predominates we have kept here to its scientific name.

 It may also have the names

  • Cyperus articulatus var. multiflorus Kükenthal;
  • C. articulatus var. nodosus (Willdenow) Kükenthal;
  • C. corymbosus Rottbøll var. subnodosus (Nees & Meyen) Kükenthal;
  • C. nodosus Willdenow;
  • C. nodosus var. subnodosus (Nees & Meyen) Boeckeler;
  • C. subnodosus Nees & Meyen



Cyperus articulatus  is widespread across tropical and subtropical regions in Africa, southern Asia, northern Australia, the southeastern United States, the West Indies, and Latin America.  It can be found in marshes, shallow water, pools, channels and ditches.

  • Within the USA it is found in  Ala., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., S.C., and Tex.
  • In South America it is found in Mexico; Central America; and South America.
  • In Asia it can be found in tropical and subtropical regions from Bangla Desh to Sri Lanka. At present, it is not recorded for Pakistan.

In many regions it is cultivated because of its known medicinal and insect repellant value.  For example

Cyperus articulatus is an insect repellant plant commonly found in Northern Nigeria and used traditionally in pest control. The light petroleum and methanol extracts of the plant's rhizome were evaluated against Tribolium casteneum Hbst (the red flour beetle) using standard techniques. The methanol extract showed more antifeedant property than the light petroleum extract, while both the extracts were observed to have similar repellant actions.  PMID: 10861974


Cyperus articulatus  is a perennial with  rhizomes to 200 cm. Culms to 25 cm apart, 1(–3) together, terete (scarcely compressed in drying), occasionally trigonous for apical 1/3, 40–140(–200) cm, 4–12 mm thick at base, (1.2–)1.5–2.5 mm thick at apex (with conspicuous transverse septa ca. 3 cm apart basally, to 3–5 mm apart apically), glabrous or infrequently scabrid on angles apically; sheaths at base of culm, 2–3, (5–)10–25 cm, loose, papery.


Leaves usually bladeless, blades when present, cross ribs prominent, especially adaxially, (1–)10–20(–40) cm × 4–6(–9) mm.

Inflorescences: spikes 1(–5), broadly ovoid to ± umbellate, 15–45 × 10–30 mm; rays 5–7(–10), 0.3–8(–12) cm; 2d order rays occasionally present, 5–20 mm; bracts 2(–4), erect, longest appearing to be continuation of culm, deltate to lance-linear, 0.2–2(–9) cm × 1.5–4.5 mm; rachilla persistent, wings translucent, whitish, or stramineous, 0.4 mm wide. Spikelets (1–)5–10, linear, compressed, 10–35(–45) × 1.1–2 mm; floral scales deciduous, 15–45, spreading or appressed, laterally light brown, medially green to brown, laterally 1–2-ribbed, medially 3-ribbed, oblong-elliptic to ovate, 2.9–3.7 × 1.1–1.6(–1.8) mm, apex acute.

Flowers: anthers 1.7–2.4 mm; styles 1.2–3.6 mm; stigmas 1.7–6 mm. Achenes brown, stipitate, obovoid-ellipsoid, 1.2–1.6 × 0.4–0.6 mm, stipe 0.1 mm, apex markedly apiculate, surfaces puncticulate.

Fruiting summer.

Medicinal uses

Dr Duke has made no analysis of the plant, but has provided an analysis of activity according to other sources


Cyperus articulatus (CYPERACEAE)

Ache Eb25: 248;

Colic Tackholm;

Dyspepsia Woi.2;

Fumigant Woi.2;

Sedative Woi.2

Mrs Grieve also has an analysis – see the observations. 

But some of the very interesting activity is supplied by the papers recently being published on the plant – particularly its activity against parasites.

Folk medicine and traditional medicine has long attributed to the plant sedative and anticonvultant activity and this has recently been found accurate.


Cyperus articulatus L. (Cyperaceae) is a plant commonly used in traditional medicine in Africa and Latin America to treat many diseases.

The water extract from rhizomes of Cyperus articulatus concentration-dependently reduced spontaneous epileptiform discharges and NMDA-induced depolarisations in the rat cortical wedge preparation at concentrations at which AMPA-induced depolarisations are not affected.

The two antiepileptic compounds, valproate and ethosuximide, possessed effect neither on epileptiform discharges nor on AMPA- and NMDA-induced depolarisations. Phenobarbital, pentobarbital and phenythoin inhibited both AMPA- and NMDA-induced depolarisations and spontaneous epileptiform discharges.

The effects of Cyperus articulatus were very close to the effect of D-CPPene. D-CPPene also inhibited spontaneous epileptiform discharges and antagonised NMDA- but not AMPA-induced depolarisations.  PMID:  12787951

 But one of the more important activities is its effects against the drug resistant Plasmodium falciparum strains that cause malaria. Medicinal plants used traditionally in preparation of herbal medicines for malaria are a potential source of healing and this plant is one of them.

To identify the anti-plasmodial potential of twelve plants used in preparing herbal remedies for malaria in Kilifi and Tharaka districts of Kenya.  Seven (30%) extracts showed activity against P. falciparum with IC(50) values below 20 microg/ml. The remaining 16 extracts showed low or no activity. The most active extracts were from Zanthoxylum chalybeum (Rutaceae) with an IC(50) value of 3.65 microg/ml, Cyperus articulatus (Cyperaceae) with 4.84mug/ml, and Cissampelos pareira (Menispermaceae) with 5.85 microg/ml. PMID: 19041710



References and further reading

  • Extracts from rhizomes of Cyperus articulatus (Cyperaceae) displace [3H]CGP39653 and [3H]glycine binding from cortical membranes and selectively inhibit NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission. Bum EN, Meier CL, Urwyler S, Wang Y, Herrling PL.  J Ethnopharmacol. 1996 Nov;54(2-3):103-11.  PMID: 8953423
  • [Antimicrobial activity and interaction with DNA of medicinal plants from the Peruvian Amazon region].  Mongelli E, Desmarchelier C, Coussio J, Ciccia G.  Rev Argent Microbiol. 1995 Oct-Dec;27(4):199-203. Spanish.  PMID: 8850132
  • Phytother Res. 2000 Jun;14(4):281-3.  The repellant and antifeedant properties of Cyperus articulatus against Tribolium casteneum Hbst.  Abubakar MS1, Abdurahman EM, Haruna AK.
  • J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Jul;87(1):27-34.  Effects of Cyperus articulatus compared to effects of anticonvulsant compounds on the cortical wedge. Ngo Bum E1, Rakotonirina A, Rakotonirina SV, Herrling P. 1Département des Sciences Biologiques, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Ngaoundéré, B.P. 565, Ngaoundéré, Cameroon. eli_bum@yahoo.fr
  • J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jan 21;121(2):282-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.10.033. Epub 2008 Nov 8.  Anti-plasmodial activity of the extracts of some Kenyan medicinal plants.  Rukunga GM1, Gathirwa JW, Omar SA, Muregi FW, Muthaura CN, Kirira PG, Mungai GM, Kofi-Tsekpo WM.  Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), PO BOX 54840, Nairobi, Kenya.

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