Cyperus esculentus (Chufa Sedge, Yellow Nutsedge, Tigernut Sedge, Earthalmond) is a species of sedge native to warm temperate to subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is an annual or perennial plant, growing to 90 cm tall, with solitary stems growing from a tuber. The stems are triangular in section, and bear slender leaves 3-10 mm wide. The flowers of the plant are distinctive, with a cluster of flat oval seeds surrounded by four hanging leaf-like bracts positioned 90 degrees from each other. The plant foliage is very tough and fibrous, and is often mistaken for a grass.
There are several varieties:
Tigernuts have excellent nutritional qualities with a fat composition similar to olives and a rich mineral content, especially phosphorus and potassium. Tigernuts are also gluten- and cholesterol-free, and have a very low sodium content. The oil of the tuber was found to contain 18% saturated (palmitic acid and stearic acid) and 82% unsaturated (oleic acid and linoleic acid) fatty acids.
According to the Consejo Regulador de Chufa de Valencia (Regulating Council for Valencia's Tigernuts) , the nutritional composition/100 ml of a classical Horchata de Chufas, or Orxata de Xufes in Valencian language, is as follows: energy content around 66 kcal, proteins around 0.5 g, carbohydrates over 10 g with starch at least 1.9 g, fats at least 2 g.
Even though too low in proteins and in fats, and too high in carbohydrates, to be considered equal to milk, Horchata de Chufas can be useful in somehow replacing milk in the diet of people intolerant to lactose.
Since the tubers contain 20-36% oil, C. esculentus has been suggested as potential oil crop for the production of biodiesel.
The boiled nuts are used in the UK as a bait for carp and have a high reputation for success.
It is extremely difficult to remove permanently when it is considered to be an intrusive weed in lawns and gardens. This is due to the plant having a stratified and layered root system, with tubers and roots being interconnected to each other to a depth of 50 cm or more. The tubers are connected by fragile roots that are extremely prone to snapping when pulled on, making the plant extremely difficult to remove with its entire root system intact, and the plant can quickly regenerate if even a single tuber is left in place.