IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.) is a perennial herbaceous sedge native to the eastern Mediterranean region. It was cultivated in ancient Egypt for its tasty and oil-rich tubers, but the wild form has spread as a weed around the world and adapted to climates from the tropics to the subarctic. It is now considered to be one of the world's most problematic weeds. Yellow Nutsedge reproduces and spreads mainly via tubers.

The cultivated variety of Yellow Nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus var. sativus, has several common names, including Chufa, Tiger Nut, and Rush Nut. Chufa was domesticated in the White Nile region of present-day Sudan. Chufa dates back to at least the fifth millennium BC in the Neolithic age and is thought to be the third most ancient domesticated foodstuff of ancient Egypt after Emmer Wheat (Triticum dicoccon) and Barley (Hordeum vulgare). Remains of this plant dating back to 2400 to 2200 BC have been found in Egyptian tombs. Chufa was spread across North Africa and across southern Europe in the Middle Ages. It is now cultivated around the world on a small scale, including in China, North and South America, Spain, and Australia and is especially popular in West Africa, where it is still consumed as a sweetmeat and side dish, with the "nuts" being eaten raw or roasted. It is grown in the southeastern United States as hog pasture, livestock feed, and a winter food source for Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) and waterfowl. In many countries, Chufa is often used as an ingredient in the drink known as horchata. Horchata is a popular soft drink in Spain, made from the milky extract of Chufa tubers sweetened with sugar. Chufa production for this beverage in southeastern Spain was 6,650 metric tons in 1994.

Yellow Nutsedge is now considered a serious weed across much of the world, especially tropical and subtropical Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. In recent decades, weedy Yellow Nutsedges have also become more widely established across northwestern Europe (Schippers et al. 1995 and references therein). Yellow Nutsedge has become a serious weed problem in the eastern and central United States in the last 50 years. It now infests millions of hectares of Corn and Soybean in the United States. It has been a weed pest for many years in the southern United States and is considered one of the 10 most common or troublesome (or both) weeds in Corn (Zea mays), Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), Grain Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), Peanut (Arachis hypogaea), Soybeans (Glycine max), and turfgrass in the southern states.

Chufa tubers contain around 4% protein, 24% fat, 30% starch, and 16% sucrose (Vaughan and Geisler 1997). Pascual et al. (2000) reviewed the value and uses of Chufa and aspects of its cultivation.

Negbi (1992) reviewed the domestication and evolution of weediness of both Yellow and Purple Nutsedge (C. rotundus).

(Bendixen and Nandihalli 1987 and references therein; Schippers et al. 1995 and references therein; Vaughan and Geissler 1997; Defelice 2002 and references therein)


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