tigernut, nearly cosmopolitan perennial ( Cyperus esculentum ) of the family Cyperaceae (sedge family) of the same genus as the papyrus plant. The tigernut has been cultivated since early times (chiefly in S Europe and W Africa) for its small, tuberous rhizomes, which are eaten raw or roasted, used for hog feed, and pressed for the juice to make a beverage. A nondrying oil (usually called chufa) is also obtained from the rhizome. In W Africa the plant often grows in great concentration and is gathered from the wild. In the S United States it is sometimes a troublesome weed in planted fields. Other names are earth almond and yellow nut grass. The tigernut is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Cyperaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.