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Brown Galingale

Cyperus fuscus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, gardens, marshes, mud, swamps, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
Reddish-brown spikelets in umbels. Each umbel contains between 3 and 15 spikelets. The bracts are much longer than the umbels themselves. 1 stamen per flower.
A light brown achene, about 1mm long.
Flat leaves, up to 4mm wide and 10cm long.
Other Names:
Brown Flatsedge, Dark Sedge.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Cyperus fuscus, also known as dark sedge, is a species of flowering plant in the Cyperaceae family. It is native to North America and it is often found in moist or wet habitats such as marshes, swamps, bogs and ditches. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that typically grows to between 30-100 cm in height. The leaves are basal, and the stems are triangular in shape. The inflorescence is a cylindrical spike of small, inconspicuous brownish-green flowers. The plant blooms in Summer and fall. The species is often used in horticulture as a ornamental grass, providing a vertical element in wetland gardens, planted in mass, or as a specimen plant.


Brown Galingale, also known as Cyperus fuscus, is a perennial herb that belongs to the family Cyperaceae. It is commonly found in wetlands, marshes, and other damp places in Asia, Europe, and North America. Brown Galingale has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, and is also valued for its edible roots.

Appearance and Habitat

Brown Galingale typically grows to a height of around 30-60 cm (12-24 inches), and has long, thin leaves that can reach up to 1 meter (3 feet) in length. The plant produces small, brownish flowers that are arranged in clusters on the ends of long stalks. The roots of Brown Galingale are rhizomatous, meaning they spread out horizontally just below the surface of the soil.

Brown Galingale is commonly found in wetlands and marshes, but can also be found in other damp habitats such as ditches and along riverbanks. It prefers full sun to partial shade, and is often found growing alongside other wetland plants such as cattails and sedges.


Brown Galingale has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The roots of the plant are believed to have astringent, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory properties. They have been used to treat a variety of ailments, including urinary tract infections, diarrhea, and inflammation of the digestive tract. Brown Galingale has also been used topically to treat skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Brown Galingale is also valued for its edible roots. The roots are starchy and have a nutty flavor, and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are often used in traditional dishes in Asia, and are also used to make a type of flour that can be used in baking.


Despite its long history of use, Brown Galingale is not widely cultivated, and is primarily harvested from the wild. This has led to concerns about the sustainability of harvesting practices, and efforts are underway to promote more sustainable cultivation practices.

In addition, Brown Galingale is also threatened by habitat loss due to wetland destruction and degradation. Wetlands are some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, with over half of all wetlands having been lost in the last century. Efforts are underway to conserve wetlands and the species that depend on them, including Brown Galingale.

Taxonomy and Distribution

Brown Galingale, or Cyperus fuscus, is a member of the family Cyperaceae, which also includes other wetland plants such as cattails and sedges. It is a widespread species that is found throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. In Asia, it is found from India to Japan, while in Europe it is found from Portugal to Turkey. In North America, it is found in the eastern United States and Canada.

Ecological Importance

Brown Galingale is an important component of wetland ecosystems. Its rhizomatous roots help to stabilize soil and prevent erosion, while also providing habitat and food for a variety of animal species. The plant's flowers are also a source of nectar for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

In addition, wetlands are important for water filtration and purification, and help to regulate water flow and prevent flooding. Brown Galingale is one of many wetland species that contribute to these important ecosystem services.

Cultural Importance

Brown Galingale has been used for medicinal purposes and as a food source for centuries, and is an important cultural resource in many parts of the world. In Japan, the plant is known as "yamamoto" and is used in traditional dishes such as rice cakes and dumplings. In India, the plant is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, coughs, and digestive issues.

In addition, Brown Galingale has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat conditions such as diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and inflammation. The plant's roots are also believed to have aphrodisiac properties, and are used as a traditional remedy for sexual dysfunction.

Propagation and Cultivation

Brown Galingale can be propagated through division of the rhizomes, which can be dug up and separated into smaller sections for planting. The plant prefers moist soil and full sun to partial shade, and can be grown in a variety of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils.

In cultivation, Brown Galingale can be grown for both medicinal and culinary purposes. The roots can be harvested after one to two years of growth, and can be dried and stored for later use. The plant can also be grown in a container or raised bed, which can help to control its spread.

In addition, cultivating Brown Galingale can help to promote sustainable harvesting practices and reduce the pressure on wild populations. However, it is important to ensure that cultivation does not negatively impact wild populations or their habitats.

Phytochemistry and Health Benefits

Brown Galingale contains a variety of phytochemicals that are responsible for its medicinal properties. These include flavonoids, alkaloids, and tannins, which have astringent, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic effects.

Research has shown that Brown Galingale may have a variety of health benefits, including:

  • Treating urinary tract infections: Brown Galingale has been shown to have antibacterial activity against common urinary tract pathogens, and may be effective in treating urinary tract infections.
  • Reducing inflammation: Brown Galingale has anti-inflammatory properties and may be effective in reducing inflammation in the body.
  • Supporting liver health: Brown Galingale has been shown to have hepatoprotective effects, and may help to protect the liver from damage.
  • Improving digestion: Brown Galingale has astringent properties that may help to reduce diarrhea and improve digestion.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of Brown Galingale and to determine the optimal dosages and methods of use.


Brown Galingale is a versatile and valuable plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary properties. Its ecological importance as a wetland species and its potential health benefits make it an important plant to conserve and study. By promoting sustainable cultivation practices and conserving wetland habitats, we can ensure that this valuable and versatile plant continues to provide benefits for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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