What is papyrus?

   Papyrus is a tall reed-like plant that lives in wet places. It was used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to make a writing material like paper. The word "paper" comes from the word "papyrus."
The Greeks peeled thin strips from the papyrus stem, pasted or pounded the strips together, smoothed them with shells, and rolled the sheets into scrolls.
   Papyrus was also used for making boats, rope, sailcloth, and mats. The roots were used for fuel and the flowers for decorating the shrines of gods. Today, the plant is quite rare and usually found only as decoration in water gardens.