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Famine Foods
Compiled by Robert Freedman


The Nutsedge family.

Cyperus bulbosus, Boeck.; Lag.; Schrank.; Vahl. India (Bombay Presidency): bulbs dried and pulverized, then mixed with jowari, bajri (millet) or wheat flour to make bread. The Bhils burn the bulb after washing it, which removes the thin husks from the grain [sic]. The grain can be ground into flour from which bread is prepared, or made into Ghes or Rab (Kanji). It is considered too "cold" for the body and is reported to be constipating, and also to cause night blindness. Australia: the bulbs are rubbed between the hands to loosen the husks, which are blown away. The grain is eaten raw or roasted. Soil types favored by plant: cultivated fields of sandy plains. Chemical composition (after Paton & Dunlop) (grams per 100g): Protein = 2.27g. Fat = 0.58g. Carbohydrate (soluble) = 82.46g. Fibre = 1.51g. Ash = 1.58g. Water = 11.60g. Calories = 353. Vernacular names - Ahmedabad district, Bombay Presidency: Theg, Theck root. Virmagaon, Ahmedabad district, Bombay Presidency: Bid [N.B. Bid is also the name for Scirpus grossus, var. Kayseor ]. Rajasthan (western): Motha, Mothabasa. Ref. GAMMIE; GUPTA & KANODIA, IRVINE; PATON & DUNLOP, SAXENA.

Cyperus esculentus, L. Zimbabwe: tubers eaten raw or cooked. Ref. ZINYAMA.

Cyperus jeminicus, Bernh. ex Kunth.; Retz.; Rottb.; Heyne ex C.B. Clarke. India: leaves eaten; tubers ground into flour. Ref. WATT.

Cyperus rotundus, L. France: root recommended as famine food. Can be eaten raw or cooked. Can be dried and reduced to a flour. India (Jaisalmer district, Rajasthan): fibre and cuticle of root removed, root dried, ground and made into bread and sometimes mixed with other flour; (Western Rajasthan): tubers roasted; also boiled, outer skin peeled off, and the starchy rhizome eaten wirh spices. Vernacular names (India) - Rajasthan: Mothee, Motha. Ref. KING, PARMENTIER, SAXENA.

Fimbristylus Kysoor, Roxb.; Dalz. & Gibs. India: root eaten. Ref. WATT.

Fimbristylus sub -bispicata, Ness. & May. China: shoots and roots eaten. Vernacular names: Sedge, Pond Onion. Ref. READ.

Mariscus Sieberianus, Nees. China: roots and seeds made into flour. Vernacular name: Tall Sedge. Ref. READ.

Scirpus grossus, L. f. (syn. Scirpus kysoor [Kyseor ], Roxb.). India: the Bhils collect the plant's roots at the beginnng of the dry season from Nal tank (northwest area of Dholka Taluka). Threshing removes adhering clay. The outer fibres are burnt in a fire of their own grasses [sic], and again threshed - a process which is repeated. The roots are then ground into flour from which bread is prepared. The root is toxic and must be processed as described [sic]; (Kumaon region, Western Himalayas): starchy roots eaten raw or cooked. Chemical composition (after Paton & Dunlop) (grams per 100g): Protein = 4.12g. Fat = 1.0g. Carbohydrate (soluble) = 76.18g. Fibre = 6.80g. Ash = 3.40g. Water = 8.50g. Calories = 338. Ref. BHARGAVA; PATON & DUNLOP.

Scirpus lacustris, L. (syn. Scirpus acutis, L.; Scirpus validus, Vahl.) China: shoots and roots eaten. Ref. READ, UPHOF.

Scirpus maritimus, L. India (Bombay Presidency): seeds eaten. (Western Rajsthan): seeds pounded, made into flour and mixed with bajra (millet). Vernacular names - Wagra, Broach district, Bombay Presidency: Chid. Ahmedabad district, Bombay Presidency: Dila. Western Rajasthan: Dila, Chid. Ref. GAMMIE; GUPTA & KANODIA, SAXENA.

Last update Thursday, February 26, 1998 by aw