Cyperus papyrus
Common Name: papyrus
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Native Range: Africa
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Greenish-brown
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Winter hardy to USDA Zone 9 where is may be grown in wet, boggy soils in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade. May be grown in containers at the margins of water gardens, pools or ponds. Grows well in both standing water and in boggy soils. In the St. Louis area, these plants are tender perennials that must be brought indoors in fall before first frost for overwintering in a sunroom or greenhouse. When overwintering, set the container in a saucer filled with water, and place the container and saucer near a bright sunny window in a preferably cool (60-65 degree F.) area. Plants may be grown as annuals.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cyperus papyrus, commonly called papyrus, is native to Africa. It is a tall, clump-forming, tender perennial sedge that, in frost-free areas, will grow up to 15’ tall. In St. Louis gardens, stems will grow shorter (to 5-8’ tall). It features a grass-like clump of triangular green stems that rise up from thick, woody rhizomes. Each stem is topped by an umbellate inflorescence of 100+ narrow arching thread-like rays (4-12” long). Greenish-brown flower clusters appear at the ends of the rays. Flowers give way to brown, nut-like fruits. In ancient Egypt, the stems of this plant (considered by some authorities to be the bulrush of the Bible) were used to make a paper-like writing material also called papyrus.

Genus name comes from the Greek word kypeiros which was the name given to some local sedges.

Specific epithet is the Greek name used for paper made into rolls from this plant in Ancient Egypt.

A dwarf version of this plant, designated as C. p. ‘Nanus’ or C. profiler, typically grows to only 2-3’ tall.


No serious insect or disease problems. Not winter hardy to St. Louis area.

Garden Uses

Graceful accent for water gardens, bogs or pond/stream peripheries. Patio containers/tubs.