Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Thomas Canam

Thesis Committee Member

Gordon C. Tucker


The grasses that yield therapeutically important products are among the least studied in the Cyperaceae family. Herb-based medicine from ancient times have played a vital role in ailments of various disease and nowadays it has been a particular area of interest in medicine. Phytochemicals are inherent compounds derived from plants that are biologically active, non-nutritive chemicals that act as a defensive or prophylactic medicine in humans. Their extracts have proven to show inhibition properties against different microbes. Despite the prevalence of Cyperus species and their traditional use in medicine, the chemical components responsible for their attributes remain largely unknown. This thesis research compared ten species of sedges (Cyperus rotundus, Cyperus esculentus, Cyperus diffusus, Cyperus involucratus, Cyperus helferi, Cyperus prolixus, Cyperus papyrus, Cyperus surinamensis, Cyperus hortensis, Cyperus squarrosus) with respect to their phytochemical constituents by examining their chemical profiles using HPLC. Methanol-based leaf and root extracts between species were shown to have significantly unique phytochemical profiles, with many extracts containing phytochemicals that support mammalian health (e.g. asiatic acid). In addition, comparing fresh plant extracts with dried samples (historical specimens) revealed that some of the phytochemical components appeared to be reasonably stable over decades. This study also examined antimicrobial properties of extracts from these plants, although results were inconclusive due to solvent incompatibility with either the phytochemicals or microbial species. Overall, this research revealed the unique phytochemical profiles of Cyperus species, and underscored the importance of considering each species and tissue type individually when investigating the medicinal properties of this genus.