Cyperus Species, Umbrella Papyrus, Umbrella Palm, Umbrella Sedge

Cyperus alternifolius subsp. flabelliformis

Family: Cyperaceae (sy-peer-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cyperus (sy-PEER-us) (Info)
Species: alternifolius subsp. flabelliformis
Synonym:Cyperus involucratus
View this plant in a garden


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Alexandria, Alabama

Auburn, Alabama

Dothan, Alabama

Eight Mile, Alabama

Fairhope, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Satsuma, Alabama

Goodyear, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona(2 reports)

Queen Creek, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Bay, Arkansas

Midway, Arkansas

Prescott, Arkansas

Clayton, California

Greenbrae, California

Knights Landing, California

Menifee, California

Oakhurst, California

Palm Springs, California

Rialto, California

San Francisco, California

Sonoma, California

Van Nuys, California

Bartow, Florida

Big Pine Key, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Islamorada, Florida

Melbourne, Florida

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Niceville, Florida

North Fort Myers, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Old Town, Florida

Palm Bay, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida

Ruskin, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida

Tavernier, Florida

Winter Haven, Florida

Yulee, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Cordele, Georgia

Hinesville, Georgia

Jonesboro, Georgia

Patterson, Georgia

Kailua, Hawaii

Kaneohe Station, Hawaii

Kapaa, Hawaii

Maunawili, Hawaii

Wailua Homesteads, Hawaii

Lombard, Illinois

Union, Kentucky

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Gonzales, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Zachary, Louisiana

Olney, Maryland

East Longmeadow, Massachusetts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Madison, Mississippi

Natchez, Mississippi

Summit, Mississippi

Mount Vernon, Missouri

Bridgewater, New Jersey

Brooklyn, New York

Beaufort, North Carolina

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Rutherfordton, North Carolina

Zebulon, North Carolina

Canton, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cleveland, Ohio

Dayton, Ohio

Zanesville, Ohio

Cottage Grove, Oregon

Portland, Oregon(7 reports)

Royersford, Pennsylvania

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Beaufort, South Carolina

Bluffton, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina(2 reports)

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Inman, South Carolina

Isle Of Palms, South Carolina

Lexington, South Carolina

Moncks Corner, South Carolina

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina

Lake City, Tennessee

Abilene, Texas(2 reports)

Alice, Texas

Aransas Pass, Texas

Austin, Texas(3 reports)

Brownsville, Texas

Canyon Lake, Texas

Coppell, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Fulshear, Texas

Garland, Texas

Harlingen, Texas

Houston, Texas

Humble, Texas

Jacksonville, Texas

Keller, Texas

Lubbock, Texas

Midland, Texas

New Braunfels, Texas

Odessa, Texas

Plano, Texas

Richmond, Texas

Rusk, Texas

San Antonio, Texas(3 reports)

Santa Fe, Texas

Spring, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Everett, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 10, 2016, Annietash from Bedfordshire,
United Kingdom wrote:

I have been growing this for quite a few years, when it starts to get a bit 'tired' I take cuttings and start again. All other plants have reached about 5ft, but the one I have now I planted 2 little cuttings in my bathroom in July 2014, and I now have a splendid looking giant of a plant a 7ft. tall!!


On May 9, 2016, ginagardens from Fort Walton Beach, FL wrote:

I love the tropical look of this plant. I started with three 2' plants. Within a year, they grew to a very nice 5-6' tall. In 5 years, I've divided and shared this quite a bit. I knew not to plant it near sidewalks since they get tall and fall over. In a few areas where I've left them to grow, I'll occasionally tie a ribbon around them if they bush out too much. This year, I decided I did not want to be struggling with the roots anymore as they invade into my azaleas, banana trees, and Indian hawthorn, so I removed quite a bit of it. It was a lot of work, so I may use weed killer next time. I'll keep it in containers.


On Mar 29, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has listed this species as a Category ll invasive. It can damage ecosystem functioning and impoverish natural habitat.


On Sep 12, 2013, jkeithsr from Lombard, IL wrote:

I'm in the upper midwest and set this plant outdoors for the summer months. In trying to root new plants in water I'm getting some fuzzy wuzzy looking stuff around the new growth. This hasn't happened before. I've rinsed off a couple of times but it comes back. Anybody with ideas? Thanks!


On Mar 3, 2013, joraines from Inman, SC wrote:

Bought some of this plant from a fellow ponder who lives nearby last year and planted it in partial shade in very muddy soil at our pond edge. We are in Upstate SC in the Blue Ridge Foothills in zone 7. Can't wait to see it come back this year. He says his return every year but does better with partial shade in our hot, often dry summers than it does in full sun.


On Oct 8, 2012, Suzanne_Jacobs from Pretoria,
South Africa wrote:

I can't believe this funny-looking thing really needs a lot of water. Mine came out of nowhere (probably from bird droppings) - it grows in a little neglected corner of my garden, it hardly gets any water at all, and it's doing fine.


On May 1, 2012, h9kr4jg8ir5 from Spring, TX wrote:

Last year, I filled in my Houston swimming pool with heavy clay dirt, resulting a mushy bog garden with a pond-like area on one half where standing water usually collects. I let weeds grow in it for a year then took inventory this spring of what survived. One tall grassy weed (which I finally identified as Umbrella Grass) absolutely dominated the wetter half, growing in clumps right out of the water, often reaching 4' high. Virtually nothing else could compete with it. In the drier area, it made a presence as well. I ripped out all the other weeds and I'm on my way to having a huge garden of nothing but Umbrella Grass. I had never seen it before. I suppose the seeds were in the soil when it arrived in the trucks. Or maybe the seeds came on the wind. It looks tropical to me. I'm d... read more


On Jul 28, 2011, Nixta from Brookfield, CT wrote:

Wasn't sure how I was going to over winter this in CT. Normally I have plants dry out in winter if they need consistently moist soil. I decided to stick it in my fish tank. The fish love it and it does really well. I just need to give it some more light since the hood won't fit on the tank with a huge plant sticking out of it.


On May 9, 2011, Aramis from British Columbia,
Canada wrote:

I was surprised to see this plant listed as poisonous, as my cat has been muching on mine during the winter when I brought it in. I know of other people with cats who have also said their cat ate the fronds.
I also see similar comments from dog owners.


On Jun 5, 2010, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

They can be brought inside for winter for northern climates - either in a bucket or a saucer full of water. They often browned their leaves throughout winter since it takes too much care to moisture the leaves.


On Feb 19, 2008, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

FEBRUARY 2008: I had been warned that this was an enthusiastic plant, so armed w/ this knowledge, I potted the plant and sank it inground. In about 2 years the plastic pot had completely disappeared and I had a clump which was 2ft wide. My mistake was to cut the bottom of my pot. It seems the roots grew underneath the pot and proceeded to expand.

It was a bear to take out this gynormous clump. It weighed at least 40 lbs. I divided the clump, potted in a double pot (one plastic pot inside another) and sank it inground. If this plant outgrows this double walled container, I'm done with it.

JANUARY 2013. I can't believe 5 yrs have gone by since I posted. Happy to report that not a single volunteer or runner appeared using this "double pot sunk ingroun... read more


On Oct 27, 2007, sunimrette from Zebulon, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I grew this plant in a container pond out on the deck of my 3rd story apartment. It survived two winters there in zone 7b, despite my being warned that it would not. (the container never froze solid that I know of, though it did get a healthy layer of ice) I have had to re-pot it twice, as it spreads like crazy. This spring it outgrew a new pot in only three months! Now that it is the same size as the container I was using as a pond, I have re-planted it in the ground. It is easily propagated by cutting off the tip of a stem and letting it float in the water- roots form very quickly.


On Sep 15, 2007, fineas from Corpus Christi, TX wrote:

When I saw this plant sprouting in my back yard, in a tiny space surrounding my spa, I thought "what a cute little green plant". I decided to let it grow and see how it matured and how it would add to the beauty of the area around the hot tub. It grew to a monster plant as high as the structure near it. Then it had some blossoms, very small around the upper part of the "umbrella". Then it began to drop little things maybe seeds or dust that caused tons of itching, sore irritated nose and generalized itching on my skin just sitting near the plant. This plant was magnificient, tall spreading its fronds very far and reaching to the sky, tall and a little ominous. We had snow one Christmas, so rare and unusual here in South Texas, that everyone was taking photos, my hubby included. The snow d... read more


On Jul 30, 2006, speckledpig from Satsuma, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have a "cluster" of these growing in a bed near my patio. They get to around 5-6' high. This is an area that receives a lot of roof runoff; otherwise I don't water it. It came with the house.

My mother calls them "umbrella palm", although I'm seeing that this really isn't a "palm" apparently.


On Sep 29, 2005, doesilky from San Antonio, TX wrote:

My niece was getting rid of her plants, so I dug them up and planted them in a shaded area. They didn't thrive so well. I dug the roots up once again and planted them a plotted planter and water them and put a plastic tray on top of them. I really forgot about them, until one day I said oh! I need to check to see if they started growing. I am happy to say they did grow, but I am afraid to put them in the ground again. Does anyone have any suggestions? Feel free to email me at [email protected]


On Jan 22, 2005, sharilynncammac from Buhl, ID wrote:

My mother in law gave my husband a starter size of this plant for christmas. No one knows why as he doesn't do plants. But I do. I looked it up and found this web page. I was interested in trying this outdoors but our temps often get below zero. I'll try it this spring. I was very interested in the comments about dogs enjoying the plant. I pinched off a new stem and showed it to the daschund. She ate most of it and chewed on the rest. Very interesting.


On Jul 24, 2004, missdian from Midway, AR wrote:

I brought back some umbrella plants from GA a couple of years ago to see if they would grow here in AR. During the winter I cover them with with plastic and mulch and they came back. One plant didn't get covered last winter and it came back also. We get down in the low teens and sometimes below zero here during the winter and have a lot of ice and snow here. They are about 4 ft. tall so far this summer.


On Jul 24, 2004, desertboot from Bangalore,
India (Zone 10a) wrote:

We once had large clumps of them, in earth, all over the garden. The term "invasive" seems appropriate. BTW, I wonder if anyone else has found their canine family members demolishing tender new shoots with great gusto (and suffering no ill-effects thereafter, considering the lightly serrated edges)?


On Jun 24, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

my mother called it "umbrella sedge". It always grew well in her garden, Hawaii zone 11, in relatively dry areas. Hardy and the bugs never semed to go after it. I have one that grew wild in a pot and stays "dwarf" at about 12"-15", but something eats the heads off as soon as they come up. No clue what it is...but the plant always comes back. I'll plant it in the ground and see if it fairs better, once I decide where to put it. Aloha.

9/24/04 - started to suspect it was my dog, not an insect eating the heads off new shoots, then saw desertboot's comment. Since then have caught him in the act. Doesn't seem to do him any harm, can't say the same for plant. Anybody have any idea how to discourage the munching dog??


On Oct 15, 2003, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Placed this plant into a fish pond, pot and all. It thrived, looking very nice in the pond with the soil level just bearly above the water line. It froze back in the winter, but has come back this summer. Interesting plant in watergarden, even here in Western Washington state. Will be looking for it to re-emerge next Spring.


On Oct 6, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I first grew this plant in my front yard in St. Petersburg, Florida, zone 9b, for many years. It spread like crazy, and I gave away and/or sold many divisions of this plant over the years.

I now have a huge one growing in a regular flower bed in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, and it is also spreading rapidly. It turns brown here at the first frost, but after cutting back the dead stems in mid-Spring it comes back up larger than ever.

We had very heavy rain all Summer that actually beat down some of the "heads," and these are now rooting where they touched the ground for several months. This was new to me about this plant. One of the reasons I love gardening so much is that you can always learn something new about something you thought you knew all about--M... read more


On Oct 3, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have one growing in my fish pond. The only problem is that it has taken over the fish pond. Of course it was a small fish pond. But it looks like a plant in a vase. They bloom every year and they are beautiful. I have uprooted several and put them in the front pond. They are begining to stand up in that pond too. There is less sun but it does not seem to bother this plant, full sun or deep shade it takes off.


On Sep 21, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
Umbrella plants have been growing in my mother's yard for at least 50 years. They have received little attention and no supplemetal water for the past year after she had at heart attack. Though they are not as robust as when they have been watered regularly, they are surviving. Those in my yard planted in containers require more water and are thriving. They die down after a hard freeze and reappear in spring. These plants provide tropical textural interest in the garden.


On Sep 21, 2003, gunner76 from Beaufort, NC wrote:

I live on the coast of North Carolina and this plant grows great, dies back in winter (survied 6 inches of snow in 2003) comes back strong. I divided it with a axe and grow it in large pots. I throw a hand full of what ever plant fertilizer is handy in the pot.


On Jul 17, 2003, brmatt wrote:

We grew this plant in a pond here in Seattle. The water even froze across the top, and it continued to grow anyway.


On Jul 11, 2003, cougares from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have grown Umbrella Palm (Cyperus alternifolius) at several homes. What started as one stem and small portion of root has grown in extremely dry areas. I have included a photo of one outside an apartment which had no water other than Texas rain and the occassional washing of the patio. The new plants get only rain water as well. This plant can do well under most circumstances and is so easily propagated - why not try it?


On Mar 30, 2003, Chamma from Tennille, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

What we do here is just cut the stalk with a "propeller" on it and put the "propeller" in a bucket of water! It will take 1 week to 10 days to sprout and then plant it in soil!


On Jun 19, 2002, Ulrich from Manhattan Beach, CA (Zone 11) wrote:

Also wrongfully called Papyrus.