Papyrus Plants (that gave us the word “paper”) – Westmount Park


A Cyperus papyrus plant also know as: papyrus sedge, paper reed, Indian matting plant and Nile grass (in a planter) inside the park’s lagoon.

This plant was used by the ancient Egyptians as a source of paper. It has a very interesting history:


“The ancient Egyptians started making paper from the papyrus plant over five thousand years ago and became one of Egypt’s major exports. The modern word “paper” originates from the word “papyrus”.

Egyptian rulers realizing the importance of Papyrus, made its production a state monopoly, and guarded the secret of Papyrus jealously. The ancient Egyptians appeared to have used papyrus in so many ways. We know they made paper from papyrus but they also used it to make sandals, wove it into mats, baskets and fencing, made rope and also used parts of the plant for food as well as a medicine. The reeds were bundled together to make boats and dried to make fuel for fires. There are undoubtedly other uses that the ancient Egyptians found for papyrus.

There was no real competitor to Papyrus until, in AD 105, a Chinese court official called Ts’ai Lun invented paper. With the introduction of paper making into Egypt, the production of Papyrus rapidly declined, and eventually stopped. Papyrus was cultivated and used for writing material by Egyptians until the eighth and ninth centuries A.D. when paper from other plant fibers were utilized. By the third century A.D. the less expensive vellum, or parchment, had begun to replace papyrus in Europe.”


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