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Typha latifolia - L.                
                 
Common Name Reedmace
Family Typhaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Shallow water up to 15cm deep in ponds, lakes, ditches, slow-flowing streams etc, succeeding in acid or alkaline conditions[9, 17].
Range Throughout the world from the Arctic to latitude 30° S, incl Britain but absent from Africa, S. Asia
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun

Summary       
Typha latifolia (Common Cattail, or Broadleaf Cattail) is a common perennial marsh, or wetland plant in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Plants are typically 1.5-3 meters (5 to 10 feet) high, with 2-4 cm (.75-1.25 inch) wide leaves, and stems the height of the plant bearing long flower spikes with an upper male staminate section and a lower female pistillate section. Mature flower stalks resemble the tail of a cat. Typha latifolia is an important wild food source; however, caution should be used in selecting plants for harvest from pollution-free areas, as this genus is known to absorb large quantities of toxins where they exist in surrounding water, and may have even been planted in an effort at bioremediation of a toxic spill, such as at the site of a decomposing gas or oil tank.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Typha latifolia is a PERENNIAL growing to 2.5 m (8ft) by 3 m (9ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in flower from Jun to August. 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 : Coming soon


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 latifolia Reedmace


Typha latifolia Reedmace
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Lycaon
   
Habitats       
 Pond; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Oil;  Pollen;  Root;  Seed;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Oil.

Roots - raw or cooked[2, 12]. They can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup. The roots can also be dried and ground into a powder, this powder is rich in protein and can be mixed with wheat flour and then used for making bread, biscuits, muffins etc[55, 62, 95, 183]. One hectare of this plant can produce 8 tonnes of flour from the rootstock[85]. The plant is best harvested from late autumn to early spring since it is richest in starch at this time[9]. The root contains about 80% carbohydrate (30 - 46% starch) and 6 - 8% protein[85]. Young shoots in spring - raw or cooked[12, 55, 62, 94, 102, 183]. An asparagus substitute. They taste like cucumber[212]. The shoots can still be used when they are up to 50cm long[85]. Base of mature stem - raw or cooked[2, 9, 55]. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem[62, 183]. It is called 'Cossack asparagus'[183]. Immature flowering spike - raw, cooked or made into a soup[62, 85, 94]. It tastes like sweet corn[183]. Seed - raw or cooked[2, 257]. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, but has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted[12]. The seed can be ground into a flour and used in making cakes etc[257]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[55, 85]. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop[K]. Pollen - raw or cooked. The pollen can be used as a protein rich additive to flour when making bread, porridge etc[12, 55, 62, 94, 102]. It can also be eaten with the young flowers[85], which makes it considerably easier to utilize. 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;  Astringent;  Diuretic;  Emmenagogue;  Galactogogue;  Haemostatic;  Miscellany;  Refrigerant;  Sedative;  Tonic;  Vulnerary.


The leaves are diuretic[218]. The leaves have been mixed with oil and used as a poultice on sores[257]. The pollen is astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, refrigerant, sedative, suppurative and vulnerary[218]. 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, haemorrhage, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, post-partum pains, abscesses and cancer of the lymphatic system[222, 238]. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhoea and injuries[238]. A decoction of the stems has been used in the treatment of whooping cough[257]. The roots are diuretic, galactogogue, refrigerant and tonic[218]. The roots are pounded into a jelly-like consistency and applied as a poultice to wounds, cuts, boils, sores, carbuncles, inflammations, burns and scalds[222, 257]. The flowers are used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, cystitis, dysuria, metrorrhagia and vaginitis[218]. The young flower heads are eaten as a treatment for diarrhoea[222]. The seed down has been used as a dressing on burns and scalds[257].
Other Uses
Baby care;  Biomass;  Fibre;  Insulation;  Lighting;  Miscellany;  Oil;  Paper;  Soil stabilization;  Stuffing;  Thatching;  Tinder;  Weaving.

The stems and leaves have many uses. Gathered in the autumn they make a good thatch, can be used in making paper, can be woven into mats, chairs, hats etc[94, 99, 257]. They are a good source of biomass, making an excellent addition to the compost heap or used as a source of fuel etc. The pulp of the plant can be converted into rayon[222]. The stems can be used to make rush lights. The outer stem is removed except for a small strip about 10mm wide which acts as a spine to keep the stem erect. The stem is then soaked in oil and can be lit and used like a candle[55]. The female flowers make an excellent tinder and can be lit from the spark of a flint[212]. A fibre is obtained from the blossom stem and flowers[55, 57, 99]. A fibre obtained from the leaves can be used for making paper[189] The leaves are harvested in summer, autumn or winter and are soaked in water for 24 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with soda ash and then beaten in a ball mill for 1½ hours. They make a green or brown paper[189]. The hairs of the fruits are used for stuffing pillows etc[257]. They have good insulating and buoyancy properties and have also been used as a wound dressing and a lining for babies nappies[99]. The flowering stems can be dried and used for insulation, they also have good buoyancy properties[55, 171]. The pollen is highly inflammable, it is used in making fireworks etc[115].
Cultivation details                                         
A very easily grown plant, succeeding in the boggy margins of ponds or in shallow water up to 15cm deep[17]. It succeeds in acid and calcareous soils and requires a less organic-rich soil than T. angustifolia in order to do well[17]. It succeeds in sun or part shade[200]. A very invasive plant spreading freely at the roots when in a suitable site, it is not suitable for growing in small areas[24]. 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. Provides excellent cover for wild 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                                         
17200
                                                                                 
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.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[24]Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden.
Fairly good with lots of ideas about creating wildlife areas in the garden.
[55]Harris. B. C. Eat the Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[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.
[95]Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada.
Useful wild plants of America. A pocket guide.
[99]Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology.
Excellent and readable guide.
[102]Kavasch. B. Native Harvests.
Another guide to the wild foods of America.
[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.
[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.
[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.
[189]Bell. L. A. Plant Fibres for Papermaking.
A good practical section on how to make paper on a small scale plus details of about 75 species (quite a few of them tropical) that can be used.
[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.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[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.
[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.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Pamela Freeman Mon Oct 30 2006
Is there anything in this plant that helps to get you better from sinus, or stuffy head. Like any medice it is put in that makes you get over these kind of problems.
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