Cyperus papyrus L.

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Papyrus, Papyrus sedge, Paper reed, Indian matting plan, Nile grass

“Papyrus” is a word of Egyptian origin which means “royal” and the term connotes the plant, the Cyperus papyrus Linneus, a kind of tall stem that can go up to 5 meters, with a triangular section culminating in a corolla. It was once a plant that thrived a lot in Egypt, especially in the marshy areas of the Delta and in the marshes of the Arsinoite, today’s Faiyum, and according to ancient testimonies, it could also be found in Ethiopia, Palestine and Babylon.

The wide diffusion favored various uses in daily life, above all thanks to the low cost: food, ornamental, artisanal, medicinal, etc. However, the most widespread use came from the processing of marrow for the production of paper, an entirely Egyptian invention. There are also many artistic testimonies depicting papyrus.

Distribution: Widespread in Africa; Mediterranean flora districts. In the United States, it has become invasive in Florida and has escaped from cultivation in Louisiana, California, and Hawaii.

Submitted by
Natasha Khardina
Geographical region
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Water body part
Water body course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Habitats in Calabria, Sicily, Syria, Egypt
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Least Concern (LC)
Listed in CITES

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
20-30 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

Dissolved Oxygen


Plant form
Plant type
Plant size
500 cm
Plant growth rate
Plant light demand
Aquarium equipment

Cyperus papyrus is a perennial, very robust plant growing in the swamps and lake edges and shores, sometimes forming dense and impenetrable floating mats in deeper water 300–2000 m long.

In its natural enviroment Cyperus papyrus can reach up to 5.5 m high, with a creeping rhizome, 2-5 cm in diameter, with a white central part of air-tissue and a lighter brown harder outside cylinder; the outside of the rhizome densely covered by blackish scales 5-10 × 5-10 mm wide.

Egyptian papyrus in the aquarium it is called Cyperus helferi. It is an aquatic plant linked to the one we most commonly grow on our balconies or windowsills on Cyperus papyrus. Often used by Takashi Amano for his natural aquariums, the Cyperus helferi has become popular over the years among all fans of tank setup. Also because it is suitable for both large and medium-sized natural aquariums and nano aquariums.


Plant care

The papyrus plant is relatively easy to grow from seed, though in Egypt, it is more common to split the rootstock, and grows quite fast once established. Extremely moist soil or roots sunken in the water is preferred and the plant can flower all year long.

Water care

Papyrus can be found in tropical rain forests, tolerating annual temperatures of 20 to 30 °C and a soil pH of 6.0-8.5.

Papyrus is usually planted by rhizomes in moist, fertile soil in pots and then submerged in an aquatic environment, or it can be planted directly into 0.9 m of muddy soil to hold the heavy stems upright.