Native to Africa, the papyrus plant was once abundant in Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians used the stems of this plant for various purposes. They used to build boats, and make furniture, mattresses, baskets, sandals, etc. It was used for making a paper-like material, which was also known as papyrus. It is believed that, the Ancient Egyptians had used the material called 'papyrus', as a writing medium. So the origin of paper is also linked to the papyrus plant.
Papyrus Plant Facts
The scientific name of this plant is Cyperus papyrus, and it is commonly known as papyrus sedge or paper reed. This plant belongs to the family Cyperaceae. It is native to Africa and is commonly found growing in shallow water, near lakes and rivers. The papyrus plant has tall stems, that are triangular in cross section. The stems can grow to a height of 10 to 16 feet. These stems develop from rhizomes and carry numerous spikes on their tips. Each stem has numerous spikes, with a maximum length of around 10 inches. These spikes develop greenish-brown flower clusters at their tips. It is said that, this plant was once abundant along the banks of the river Nile. Now, papyrus plant is also grown for ornamental purposes.
Papyrus and Paper
The papyrus plant was used by the Ancient Egyptians for various purposes. While the stems were used for making mattresses, furniture, baskets, and boxes; the rhizomes were used for medicinal and culinary purposes. Even perfumes were made from the rhizomes. It was also used for making a writing medium, named papyrus. In order to make papyrus, the white inner pith of the stems were cut into long strips that were soaked for a few days. After that, the strips were arranged over cotton cloths, in alternating horizontal and vertical layers. These strips were pressed along with the cotton cloths. Once they get completely dry, the cloths were removed. The papyrus sheets were polished with stones, so as to obtain smooth surfaces for writing. In fact, the word 'paper' is derived from the Egyptian papyrus plant.
Papyrus Plant Care
Growing these plants is not a daunting task, if you know the right methods. The papyrus plant has to be grown in a location with partial or full sun. It is mainly grown as a landscape plant, and is often planted in boggy areas near ponds. You can also grow them as houseplants in containers. In that case, use containers without holes. If there are holes in the container, place it on a tray of pebbles, and fill the tray with water. You can use potting soil mixed with some sand, for growing papyrus. Water the plant at regular intervals. Mist the potted papyrus plants, because they need high humidity levels to thrive.
If you are interested in growing this plant, contact the local nursery that supplies papyrus rhizomes or plants. It will be better to gain a basic understanding about papyrus plant care, before you start with the venture.