Papyrus (from the ancient Egyptian Papu), is the Greek and Latin name of the sedge Cyperus Papyrus, probably the "bulrush" of the Bible, which, though used for boat-building, cordage, and sails, is chiefly interesting as perhaps the oldest of paper-making materials. The plant is perhaps indigenous in Nubia and Abyssinia, but was largely cultivated in the Nile delta. Some Egyptian papyri date from upwards of 2,000 years B.C. The plant has a horizontal rhizome, which spreads in the mud, sending up stems eight to ten feet high.
Pliny describes how the paper was made from these stems by cutting them in longitudinal slices, placing them side by side with others across them, wetting them and beating them with a mallet. It continued in use down to the 10th century A.D. The plant, extinct in its wild state in Egypt, grows wild near Syracuse, where it was probably introduced by the Saracens.