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Sweet Galingale

Cyperus longus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cyperaceae (Sedge)
Also in this family:
American Galingale, Birdsfoot Sedge, Black Alpine Sedge, Black Bog-rush, Bladder Sedge, Bog Sedge, Bottle Sedge, Bristle Club-rush, Bristle Sedge, Broad-leaved Cotton-grass, Brown Beak-sedge, Brown Bog-rush, Chestnut Rush, Close-headed Alpine Sedge, Club Sedge, Common Club-rush, Common Cotton-grass, Common Sedge, Common Spike-rush, Curved Sedge, Deergrass, Dioecious Sedge, Distant Sedge, Divided Sedge, Dotted Sedge, Downy-fruited Sedge, Dwarf Sedge, Dwarf Spike-rush, Estuarine Sedge, False Fox Sedge, False Sedge, Few-flowered Sedge, Few-flowered Spike-rush, Fibrous Tussock Sedge, Fingered Sedge, Flat Sedge, Flea Sedge, Floating Club-rush, Gingerbread Sedge, Glaucous Sedge, Great Fen Sedge, Greater Pond Sedge, Greater Tussock Sedge, Green-ribbed Sedge, Grey Club-rush, Grey Sedge, Hair Sedge, Hairy Sedge, Haresfoot Sedge, Hare's-tail Cotton-grass, Heath Sedge, Hop Sedge, Large Yellow Sedge, Lesser Pond Sedge, Lesser Tussock Sedge, Long-bracted Sedge, Many-stalked Spike-rush, Mountain Bog Sedge, Needle Spike-rush, Northern Deergrass, Northern Spike-rush, Oval Sedge, Pale Sedge, Pendulous Sedge, Perennial Sedge, Pill Sedge, Prickly Sedge, Remote Sedge, Rock Sedge, Round-headed Club-rush, Russet Sedge, Salt Sedge, Sand Sedge, Scorched Alpine Sedge, Sea Club-rush, Sheathed Sedge, Slender Club-rush, Slender Cotton-grass, Slender Sedge, Slender Spike-rush, Slender Tufted Sedge, Smooth-stalked Sedge, Soft-leaved Sedge, Spiked Sedge, Spring Sedge, Star Sedge, Starved Wood Sedge, Stiff Sedge, String Sedge, Tall Bog Sedge, Tawny Sedge, Thin-spiked Wood Sedge, Triangular Club-rush, True Fox Sedge, Tufted Sedge, Water Sedge, White Beak-sedge, White Sedge, Wood Club-rush, Wood Sedge, Yellow Sedge
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Ditches, marshes, ponds, sea cliffs, swamps, water, waterside, wetland.

Brown, no petals
Each cluster contains around 4 to 25 reddish-brown spikelets. Most florets of sedge species are spirally arranged but not those of Galingale.
The fruit is a 3-parted brown nutlet.
Rough-edged leaves, up to 1cm wide. The stems are triangular in cross-section. Perennial.
Other Names:
Cypress Root, English Myrtle, Galingale, Long Cyperus, Long Sedge, Sweet Cyperus, Sweet Cypress.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Cyperus longus, also known as long sedge, is a species of flowering plant in the Cyperaceae family. It is native to many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. It is a perennial herbaceous plant that typically grows to between 30-150 cm in height. The leaves are basal, long, and narrow. The inflorescence is a cylindrical spike of small, inconspicuous brownish-green or yellowish flowers. The plant blooms in summer and fall. It is often found in wetland areas, such as marshes, swamps, and ditches.

The species has a wide range of medicinal uses, including treatment of fever, infections, and skin diseases. It is also used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India. It has diuretic, laxative and anti-inflammatory properties. But, like many medicinal plants, it should be used with caution and under medical supervision. It's important to note that Cyperus longus is considered as a invasive species in some countries and states, therefore it is important to follow the laws and regulations when cultivating or using it.


Sweet Galingale, scientifically known as Cyperus longus, is a perennial herb that belongs to the Cyperaceae family. This plant is widely distributed in the Mediterranean region, Asia, and Europe, where it grows in wetlands, riverbanks, and marshes.

The plant has a characteristic scent similar to ginger and is commonly known as Sweet Galingale, although it is also called Sweet Cyperus, Galingale, or English Myrtle. The plant grows up to 1 meter in height, and its leaves are long, narrow, and green. The flowers are small and brownish and are arranged in clusters on top of the stems.

The roots of Sweet Galingale are used for various medicinal and culinary purposes. In traditional medicine, it has been used to treat various ailments such as digestive disorders, fever, coughs, and colds. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties have also been found to be beneficial in treating skin infections and wounds.

Sweet Galingale is also used as a culinary herb and has been popular for centuries. Its rhizomes have a sweet and spicy flavor, which makes them a favorite ingredient in sweets, baked goods, and liqueurs. In some regions, it is also used to flavor meats and stews.

The plant is also widely used in perfumes and cosmetics. Its essential oil has a sweet and refreshing scent, making it a popular ingredient in fragrances, soaps, and shampoos.

Growing Sweet Galingale is relatively easy, as it can thrive in moist soil and partial shade. It is commonly propagated through division, and the roots can be harvested after two or three years.

Sweet Galingale has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine in India to treat digestive disorders, headaches, and fever. In ancient Greek and Roman medicine, it was used to treat digestive and respiratory ailments.

Recent studies have found that Sweet Galingale contains compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it a potentially valuable plant for preventing and treating chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Sweet Galingale is also used in aromatherapy, where it is known for its calming and relaxing properties. Its essential oil is believed to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve mental clarity and promote better sleep.

The plant has cultural significance in many regions where it is found. In Mediterranean cultures, it is associated with love and romance and is often used in wedding ceremonies. In some regions, it is considered a symbol of good luck and is hung in homes and businesses.

In addition to its medicinal and culinary uses, Sweet Galingale has also been used for practical purposes. Its fibrous roots have been used to make paper and woven into baskets and mats.

Despite its many uses, Sweet Galingale is not commonly grown commercially. It is more often found in home gardens or in the wild. However, there is increasing interest in its potential medicinal and culinary benefits, and it may become more widely cultivated in the future.

One of the unique features of Sweet Galingale is its ability to purify water. The plant's roots have been found to absorb pollutants and contaminants from water, making it a potentially useful tool for water treatment and purification.

Sweet Galingale has also been studied for its potential as a natural insecticide. Its essential oil contains compounds that have been found to repel and kill mosquitoes, making it a possible alternative to synthetic insecticides.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Sweet Galingale is believed to have a warming effect on the body and is used to treat conditions related to coldness and dampness. It is also thought to strengthen the spleen and stomach and improve digestion.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Sweet Galingale is used to balance the dosha known as kapha, which is associated with earth and water elements. It is believed to have a warming and drying effect on the body and is used to treat conditions such as coughs, colds, and asthma.

In culinary applications, Sweet Galingale is often used in desserts, such as cakes, biscuits, and puddings. It is also used in some alcoholic beverages, such as vermouth and liqueurs.

Overall, Sweet Galingale is a fascinating and versatile plant with many potential uses. Its unique aroma, flavor, and beneficial properties make it a valuable addition to any garden or kitchen. As more research is conducted, we may discover even more uses and benefits of this remarkable herb.


Sweet Galingale filmed amidst the sand dunes at Ainsdale, Lancashire on the 10th September 2023.


Music credits
Code Blue by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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