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Family Cyperaceae
Cyperus difformis L.
Yi xing suo cao 

Scientific names Common names
Cyperus difformis L.         Baki-baki (Tagalog)
Cyperus difformis var. breviglobosus Kük.       Ballayang (Iloko)
Cyperus difformis f. humilis Debeaux       Bankoan (Philippines)
Cyperus difformis f. maximus C.B.Clarke       Baong-baong (Philippines)
Cyperus difformis var. subdecompositus Kük.       Gilhamon (Cebu Bis.)
Cyperus goeringii Steud.         Sirau-sirau (Philippines)
Cyperus holoschoenoides Jan ex Schult.         Ubod-ubod (Philippines)
Cyperus lateriflorus Torr.         Dirty dora (Engl.)
Cyperus oryzetorum Steud.         One-arm sedge (Engl.)
Cyperus protractus Link        Rice sedge (Engl.)
Cyperus subrotunndus Llanos        Small-flowered nut sedge (Engl.)
Cyperus viridis Willd. ex Kunth         Small flowered umbrella plant (Engl.)
  Small flower umbrella-sedge (Engl.)
  Variable flatsedge (Engl.)
Cyperus difformis L. is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
ALBANIA: Truska dyformash.
BRAZIL: Junquinho.
CHINA: Yi xing suo cao.
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: Sachorec nepravidelny.
FRANCE: Souchet a petites flwurs, Souchet difforme.
HINDI: Motha, Dila.
HUNGARY: Rizspalka.
INDONESIA: Jebungan, Jukut pendul, Ramon brendelan.
ITALY: Cipero globoso.
JAPAN: Tamagayatsuri.
KOREA-DPR: Albang dong sani.
MALAYSIA: Rumput air.
NEPAL: Chow, Guchen, Mothey, Ochumani.
NIGERIA: Imeremere.
PORTUGUES: Negrinha.
ROMANIA: Panul porcului de balta.
SIERRA LEONE: A-kek-a-pot.
SPANISH: Cortadera, Estoquillo, Juncia de agua, Ileivun, Tiña, Varita de San Jose.
TAIWAN: Chyou-hwa-hau-tsau.
THAILAND: Kok ka-narg, Kok khanaak.
URDU: Ghoin.

Gen info
- Cyperus difformis is a species of sedge, native to southern Europe, most of Africa and Asia, and Australia, and is naturalized in other areas of the world. (2)
- It is one of approximately 700 species of sedges in the genus Cyperus.
- C. difformis is listed in Holm's list of the world's worst weeds; a problem especially in rice, sugarcane. tea and maize. (5)

• Cyperus difformis is an annual herb with one to many thin, soft erect stems reaching over 30 centimeters in maximum height. There are usually a few long, wispy leaves around the base of the plant. Inflorescence is a rounded bundle one to three centimeters wide, containing up to 120 spikelets.  each long and partially or entirely covered in up to 30 bracted flowers. Flowers are light brown with areas darker brown and sometimes a yellowish or purplish tint. (2)

• An annual weed with fibrous and reddish roots; up to 100 cm tall. Stem: tufted, smooth and erect, triangular and 2−3 mm thick; slightly winged. Leaf: three to 4 basal leaves; sheaths united at base, lower ones straw-colored to brown; blades flaccid and linear, 15−45 cm long. Inflorescence: umbellate and subtended by two leaf-like bracts; rays 1−5 cm long, some with long peduncle, some without stalk; spikelets numerous, crowded in masses about 2−5 mm long, each spikelet composed of 10−30 flowers. Fruit: brownish nut, elliptical to slightly obovate, about 0.6 mm long and lightly pitted. (4)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Native range is Tropical & Subtropical Old World.

- A plant of aquatic and moist habitats.
- Found in grasslands on mountain slopes, in shallow water, water margins, lake margins, riversides, swamps, wet places in grasslands, along trains. and in rice paddy fields. (5)
- A weed of rice fields.

- Phytochemical study of n-hexane, chloroform, and ethanol crude extracts of rhizome with roots, flowers, and leaves indicated 14 compounds, highest (10) in flowers, followed by six in chloroform and five in ethanol extracts of plant parts.
- Chloroform extract of rhizome (with roots) showed the presence of two compounds, i.e., 1,2,4,5- tetramethylbenzene and 4-methylheptanamide. Leaves extract yielded of four compounds, i.e., 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, 4-Ethyl-1,2-dimethylbenzene, Benzene, 1,3-dimethyl-5-(1- methylethyl)- and 9-Octadecenamide, N, N-dimethyl-. (3)
- Crude extract of leaves yielded glycosides lignins, quinones, tannins, and terpenoid. (3)

Studies have suggested antioxidant, antibacterial, anticancer properties.

Agricultural concern
- Produces large quantities of seed in 30-day cycles. A dominant weed in direct-seeded rice and can occur in high plant densities, forming dense mats of vegetation in young crops with potential rice yield losses of 12-50%. Hand and mechanical weeding can provide effective control. Chemical control with Bentazon, butachlor, 2,4-D, MCPA, pretilachlor, propanil, and thiobencarb reported to be effective. (4)


- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.

Antibacterial / Antioxidant / Anticancer:
Study evaluated powdered material of various plant parts viz., rhizome with roots, flowers, and leaves. Antibacterial activity was evaluated against Salmonella enterica, E. coli and S. aureus by well diffusion method. Notable inhibition was exhibited by chloroform extract, with leaves showing inhibition zone of 16.17 mm, comparable with gentamicin 18 mm. Antioxidant activity bt DPPH radical scavenging assay  was higher in n-hexane and chloroform extracts, especially leaves at 54.6 and 43.45 compared to ethanol extracts, with activity increasing with concentration. Antiproliferative activity by SRB proliferative assay showed good activity of crude extract of plant parts against A2780 and HCT116 cancer cells. (see constituents above ) (3)


October 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Cyperus difformis near Narrabri Creek, Narrabri / Margaret R Donald / CC BY-SA 4.0 International / click on image or link to go to source page / image modified / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Cyperus difformis near Narrabri Creek, Narrabri / close up of inflorescence / MargaretRDonald / CC BY-SA 4.0 International / click on image or link to go to source page / image modified / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Cyperus difformis / KEW: Plants of the World Online

Cyperus difformis / Wikipedia
Assessment of ethnopharmacological potential of Cyperus difformis L. in terms of its’ phytochemistry, antibacterial, antioxidant and anticancer attributes / Shahzada Z Ahmad, Zaheer ud din Khan, Safdar A Mirza / Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 2022; 50(4): Article No 12918 /
DOI: 10.15835/nbha50412918
Cyperus difformis L. / J L A Catindig, R T Lubigan, D Johnson / Rice Knowledge Bank
Cyperus difformis (small-flowered nutsedge) / Common names  / CABI Compendium

DOI: 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. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. If you know of a medicinal plant to suggest for inclusion, please email the info: local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, scientific name (most helpful), and, if available, a photo. Suggestions are greatly appreciated. (G.Stuart)

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