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Typha angustifolia - L.                
                 
Common Name Small Reed Mace, Narrowleaf cattail
Family Typhaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Water up to 15cm deep, avoiding acid conditions[17]. Often somewhat brackish or subsaline water or wet soil in America, growing from sea level to elevations of 1900 metres[270].
Range Throughout the world from the Arctic to latitude 30° S, including Britain but absent from Africa.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Typha angustifolia is a PERENNIAL growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Jun to July. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : 3-7


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.

Typha angustifolia Small Reed Mace, Narrowleaf cattail


Typha angustifolia Small Reed Mace, Narrowleaf cattail
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Don_Pedro28
   
Habitats       
 Pond; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Pollen;  Root;  Seed;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Oil.

Roots - raw or cooked[12, 13, 46, 94]. They can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup[183]. The roots can also be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours[62]. Rich in protein, this powder is used to make biscuits etc[183]. Young shoots in spring - raw or cooked[2, 12, 94, 159, 183]. An asparagus substitute[62]. Base of mature stem - raw or cooked[62]. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem[62]. Young flowering stem - raw, cooked or made into a soup[85, 94, 183]. It tastes like sweet corn. Seed - cooked[183]. The seed is very small and fiddly to harvest, but it has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted[12]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[85]. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop. Pollen - raw or cooked. A protein rich additive to flour used in making bread, porridge etc[12, 105, 183]. It can also be eaten with the young flowers[85], which makes it considerably easier to utilize[K]. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush[9]. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvested[K].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anticoagulant;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;  Haemostatic;  Lithontripic;  Miscellany.

The pollen is diuretic, emmenagogue and haemostatic[176]. The dried pollen is said to be anticoagulant, but when roasted with charcoal it becomes haemostatic[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of kidney stones, internal haemorrhage of almost any kind, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, post-partum pains, abscesses and cancer of the lymphatic system[222, 238, 254]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhoea and injuries[238]. An infusion of the root has been used in the treatment of gravel[257].
Other Uses
Biomass;  Insulation;  Miscellany;  Oil;  Paper;  Soil stabilization;  Stuffing;  Thatching;  Tinder;  Weaving.

The stems and leaves have many uses, they make a good thatch, can be used in making paper, can be woven into mats, chairs, hats etc[13, 46, 57, 61, 94]. They are a good source of biomass, making an excellent addition to the compost heap or used as a source of fuel etc. The hairs of the fruits are used for stuffing pillows etc[46, 57, 159]. They have good insulating and buoyancy properties[171]. The female flowers make an excellent tinder and can be lit from the spark of a flint[212]. The pollen is highly inflammable and is used in making fireworks[115]. This plants extensive root system makes it very good for stabilizing wet banks of rivers, lakes etc[200].
Cultivation details                                         
A very easily grown plant, it grows in boggy pond margins or in shallow water up to 15cm deep[17]. It requires a rich soil if it is to do well[17]. Succeeds in sun or part shade. A very invasive plant spreading freely at the roots when in a suitable site, it is not suitable for growing in small areas. Unless restrained by some means, such as a large bottomless container, the plant will soon completely take over a site and will grow into the pond, gradually filling it in. This species will often form an almost complete monoculture in boggy soil. The dense growth provides excellent cover for water fowl[1].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - surface sow in a pot and stand it in 3cm of water. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible and, as the plants develop, increase the depth of water. Plant out in summer. Division in spring. Very easy, harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 - 30cm tall, making sure there is at least some root attached, and plant them out into their permanent positions.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
17200270
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[12]Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder.
A handy pocket guide.
[13]Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[62]Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Very readable.
[85]Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains.
A superb book. Very readable, it gives the results of the authors experiments with native edible plants.
[94]Sweet. M. Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West.
Useful wild plants in Western N. America. A pocket guide.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[115]Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain.
Written about a hundred years ago, but still a very good guide to the useful plants of Britain.
[159]McPherson. A. and S. Wild Food Plants of Indiana.
A nice pocket guide to this region of America.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[176]Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[212]Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers
Excellent little pocket guide to the area, covering 590 species and often giving details of their uses.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[270] Flora of N. America
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Rikardo Bonino Fri May 6 01:34:36 2005
Just want to know whether this plant has phytoremediation properties
Elizabeth H.
Steve Klaber Thu Dec 7 2006
please bombard the various famine control organizations with this material about typha in general. The famine areas in Africa are infested with various forms of this plant to the tune of thousands of square miles. It chokes lakes, rivers, irrigation ditches, and breeds mosquitoes and agricultural pests. Harvested for food, it could feed the whole continent. As it is, it's causing starvation. It expands in the same conditions that cause the famine- long drought punctuated by flood, so its management is a real key to ending famine forever.
Elizabeth H.
Stephen Klaber Mon May 14 2007
Known hazard for all of the typha family: They absorb and retain pollutants, storing them primarily in the rootstock (rhizomes). It is used for clarifying water and cleansing soil. Any knowledge of how to cleanse the food would be greatly appreciated. There are HUGE typha infestations plaguing all of the famine stricken areas in Africa, but some are contaminated.
Elizabeth H.
Archana Banerjee Tue Sep 4 2007
pollen collected and cooked as 'halwa' as delicious health food; possess antioxidant activity
Elizabeth H.
Teresa Seed Tue Nov 18 2008

Alcohol can be a gas Cat-tails (typha latifolia/angustifolia) are strongly touted as feedstock for producing alcohol for vehicle fuel - VERY interesting.

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