All about Umbrella plant / palm

The scientific name of the umbrella palm / plant is Cyperus alternifolius Linn.

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
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 around the world, 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)

– 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. (see study)


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

Parts utilized

Leaves, roots.

Scientific study about benefits, uses of umbrella plant or palm

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Hepatoprotective / protects liver / 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.

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.



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