METRO PLUS

Green umbrella

THE DELICATE slender stems of the umbrella plant bear long narrow tapering grass-like leaves, like the radiating ribs of an umbrella. Hence, the common name "umbrella plant". Its botanical name is Cyperous alternifolius and it belongs to the sedge family Cyperaceae. Cyperous (Siper-us) is derived from the Greek word Kypeiros, meaning sedge and is a genus of 550 species, mainly of evergreen perennials, growing in tropical to warm temperate regions. The roots are rhizomatous or stoliniferous. The flowers are tiny petaloid and arranged in flattened grasslike spike-lets, grouped in heads or umbels. They are hardy, growing luxuriantly in moisture retentive, if not boggy soils in sunny conditions. The ten-foot papyrus of Biblical times, the Egyptian paper reed (Cyperous papyrous syn. Papyrous antiquorium) of the Nile riverbanks, belongs to this family and is still cultivated liberally. Being hardy the umbrella plant makes a good indoor plant. It can be grown in pots containing loam and leaf mould. The pots may be kept in large, warm and open rooms - closed windows, which are glassed in do no good as they trap the heat. For moisture retention, stand the pots in shallow vessels of water.

The umbrella plant grows best outdoors in the soil. As it is semi-aquatic in nature, the plant requires ample watering. Stems will periodically dry and have to be cut at ground level and removed. The hip high leaves lift the greenery of lawns, creating a feeling of endlessness and coolness.

J. MANGALARAJ JOHNSON

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