Xufa, Chufa, Catufa, Juncia Avellanada, Erdmandeln, Souchet, Tigernut

Cyperus esculentus

Common name: Xufa, Chufa, Catufa, Juncia Avellanada, Erdmandeln, Souchet, Tigernut.

Scientific name: Cyperus esculentus.

Family: Cipeacies.

Variety: Ametla of Alboraia and round of Bonrepós.

Origin: Cosmopolitan plant, its origin is probably West Africa. It develops a rhizomatic root system where the tigernuts are raised. The basal leaves are 10 to 30 centimetres long and 0.2 to 1 cm wide. It has a flowering spike with 6 to 22 flowers and in the climatic conditions of Valencia, it does not set any seeds.

Use: Cultivated for at least 4000 years, as tigernuts have been found in tombs in Ancient Egypt. Its traditional use has been medicinal for the cure of gastrointestinal disorders. Theophrastus also wrote in his book “The History of Plants” that the Egyptians boiled them for the production of beer. Nowadays, both ground tigernuts in the form of flour and the whole peeled or chopped tuber are used to make sweets, bars or biscuits, as it is a gluten-free, high-energy product with 30% fat, 70% of which is oleic acid, i.e. heart-healthy, and 8% protein.

It is notable for the predominant presence of arginine as an essential amino acid, a precursor of prolactin. For this reason, the consumption of horchata, the emulsifying liquid resulting from the maceration and pressing of crushed tigernuts, is traditionally recommended for pregnant mothers and children.

Cultivation: In the conditions of Valencia, it is sown during the months of April and May, and cultivation lasts until December. It is a very demanding crop in fertile, sandy soils with a high percentage of organic matter. Generations of farmers have improved the fields with contributions of sand from the beach, which was used as bedding for the animals in the stable and then taken to the field. It needs regular watering and flooding, being very demanding in the summer period, as a good cyperaceae.

Apart from the Bactra or tiger nut borer, it does not have excessive pest problems and its cultivation in organic production is recommended.