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9. Short -leaved Malacca Galingale

Short-leaved Malacca Galingale (Cyperus malaccensis Lam. var. brevifolius Boeck.) grows between sea water and fresh water. It is therefore commonly known as "salt water grass" in Chinese. It was important for making everyday items in the 1950s and 1960s.

The stem is the part that was used by people. After drying, Short-leaved Malacca Galingale can be used as string. It is tough and flexible and fastens items firmly. Dried Short-leaved Malacca Galingale was once a daily necessity as it could be used to tie vegetables into bundles and dumplings, and to plait hats as well. During 1950s and 1960s, Hong Kong imported over 100,000 catties of dried Short-leaved Malacca Galingale from Dongguang every year to meet the high demand. Sai Ying Pun was once a noted place for selling Short-leaved Malacca Galingale. However, it became obsolete when people began to use plastic bags. There is only a shop, probably the last, still selling Short-leaved Malacca Galingale in Sai Ying Pun. 

Short-leaved Malacca Galingale, a member of the genus Cyperus of Family Cyperaceae, is a perennial herbaceous water plant. The triangular stem, which may be as tall as 1 metre, is a key feature of the family. The flower cluster bears 5 to10 flowers of different lengths, arranged in a radial form. The real leaves are at the base of the stem, rather than being the conspicuous bracts below the inflorescence. Generally, Short-leaved Malacca Galingale can be harvested twice a year. It is distributed over south China coast, Taiwan, Japan and Vietnam. In Hong Kong, it is abundant in Deep Bay and Sha Tau Kok. 

Short-leaved Malacca Galingale

Short-leaved Malacca Galingale grows by the river

Short-leaved Malacca Galingale has various uses

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