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Family Cyperaceae

Umbrella plant
Cyperus alternifolius Linn.

Ye sheng feng che cao

Scientific names Common names
Cyperus alternifolius Linn. Umbrella plant (Engl.)
Cyperus frondosus Salisb. [Illegitimate] Umbrella palm (Engl.)
Cyperus onustus Steud. Umbrella papyrus (Engl.)
Cyperus racemosus Retz. Umbrella sedge (Engl.)
Eucyperus alternifolius (L.) Rikli  
Cyperus alternifolius L. is an accepted name The Plant List The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Ye sheng feng che cao.
OTHERS: 'Ahu'awa haole, Pu'uka'a haole.

Cyperus alternifolius is a clustering perennial growing to a height of 1.5 meters. Stems are cylindric, ribbed, smooth and green. Leaves are linear, radiating from the terminal point of stem, spreading or slightly drooping, up to 20 centimeters long. Flowers are small, green and clustered.

- Widely distributed in the Philippines, in canals, ponds, and riversides.
- Occasionally planted as an ornamental.

- Naturalized in many tropical areas worldwide.

- Study of hydrodistilled volatile oil of flowers yielded 40 compounds representing about 98% of the oil. Sesquiterpenes constituted the bulk of the oil (ca. 62%); major components were α-cyperone 19.6%, ß-selinene 9.8%, caryophyllene oxide 7.2%, and cyperene 5.2%. (see study below) (4)
- Phytochemical screening of total alcoholic extract and successive extracts yielded eight phenolic compounds viz., esculetin (1), umbelliferon (2), imperatorin (3), psoralen (4), xanthotoxin (5), quercetin (6), quercetin-3-O-rutinoside (7) and gallic acid (8). (see study below) (8)

- Studies have shown antimicrobial, antioxidant, phytoremediative, hepatoprotective properties.

Parts utilized
Leaves, roots.

• No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.

Antifungal / Antioxidant / Antibacterial: Study of root and leaf extracts of Cyperus alternifolius showed moderate activity against all yeast tested, while the root extract showed a clear antioxidant activity. It showed strong activity against both sensitive and resistant S aureus strains and against E faecalis. (1)
Municipal Wastewater Treatment: Study compared the efficiency of Cyperus alternifolius and Phragmites australis in municipal wastewater treatment by Subsurface Constructed Wetland Method. Results showed C. alternifolius plant had higher efficiency in the removal of chemical parameters, while P. australis had efficiency in the removal of microbiological parameters. (3)
Essential Oil / Flowers / Antioxidant: Study of hydro-distilled volatile oil of flowers of Cyperus alternifolius yielded 40 compounds. Evaluation by DPPH free radical assay showed the volatile oil to have significant antioxidant activity. (see constituents above) (4)
Removal of Pollutant Sludge: Study evaluated the ability of Cyperus alternifolius to remove pollutant in sludge through constructed wetland. Results showed that in general CA can treat industrial sludge with high efficiency with a potential for high economic efficiency. (5)
Phytoremediative in Heavy Metal Pollution: Study evaluated the ability of C. alternifolius in restoring water with combined heavy metal pollution. Results showed Cyperus alternifolius had tolerance and enrichment ability to Cr (VI) and Ni, and can be used to restore Cr (VI) polluted water and Cr (VI)-Ni combined polluted water under low Ni concentrations. (6)
Floating Phytoremediation System: A greenhouse study showed Cyperus alternifolius and Coleus blumei could grow well in a floating phytoremediation system with good effects on the removal of pollutants in the floating phytoremediation system. (7)
Hepatoprotective / Carbon Tetrachloride Toxicity: Study evaluated the potential hepatoprotective activity of total ethanol and successive extracts of C. alternifolius against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Results showed significant (p≤0.05) protective effect as evidenced by lowering chemical parameters. (see constituents above) (8)
Phytoremediation of Levonorgestrel in Aquatic Environment: Study evaluated the absorption and degradation of levonorgestrel (LNG) by two hydrophytes, Cyperus alternifolius and Eichhornia crassipes. Phytoremediation of water polluted by LNG was found to be feasible; both CA and EC could accelerate the removal of LNG and shorten LNG exposure in the aquatic environment. (9)


Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

Last Update April 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activities of Plants from Northeast of Mexico / Ricardo Salazar-Aranda et al / eCAM, doi:10.1093/ecam/nep127

Cyperus alternifolius / Synonyms / The Plant List
Comparing the efficiency of Cyperus alternifolius and Phragmites australis in municipal wastewater treatment by subsurface constructed wetland. / Shahi DH, Eslami H, Ehrampoosh MH, Ebrahimi A, Ghaneian MT, Ayatollah S, Mozayan MR / Pak J Biol Sci. 2013 Apr 15;16(8):379-84.
Chemical and Biological Studies of Cyperus alternifolius Flowers Essential Oil / Amal H. Ahmed / Asian Journal of Chemistry 24(10):4768-4770 · October 2012
Study on the ability of Cyperus alternifolius for sludge treatment in constructed wetland / Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuong, Nguyen Van Phuoc / Vietnam Journal of Chemistry, Vol 52, No 2 (2014) / DOI: 10.15625/4883
Study on Response of Cyperus alternifolius to Cr(VI) and Ni Combined Pollution / M. C. Liu, W. Zhou / Advanced Materials Research, Vols. 989-994, Chapter 4: Resource, Energy and Electronic Development, Environmental Engineering, pp. 1319-1323, 2014 / DOI: 10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.989-994.1319
Purification of eutrophic wastewater by Cyperus alternifolius,Coleus blumei and Jasminum sambac planted in a floating phytoremediation system[J]./ LIU Shizhe,LIN Dongjiao,TANG Shujun et al. / Chinese Journal of Applied Ecology, 2004, (7): 1261-1265.
Hepatoprotective activity of Cyperus alternifolius on carbon tetrachloride–induced hepatotoxicity in rats
/ Amani S. Awaad, Gamal A. Soliman, Dalia F. El-Sayed, Omimah D. El-Gindi, and Saleh I. Alqasoumi / Pharmaceutical Biology, 2012; 50(2): 155–161 / DOI: 10.3109/13880209.2011.580351
Phytoremediation of levonorgestrel in aquatic environment by hydrophytes / Guo Li, Jun Zhai, Qiang He, Yue Zhi, Haiwen Xiao, Jing Rong /


It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page.

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