Monday, April 21, 2014

Last Year's Cattails

Here's a pic of some of last year's cattails [Typha sp] that reside in the swamp down the way from us.   I like cattails because they're sculptural - they give structure to a wild wetland garden.   They grow on the edges with the sedges, so it's easy to see where the water is shallow [and mucky.]

I didn't realize they had so many names.  Here's a blurb from wiki:

These plants have many common names. They may be known in British English as bulrush, or reedmace, in American English as cattail, catninetail, punks, or corn dog grass, in Australia as cumbungi or bulrush, and in New Zealand as raupo. Other taxa of plants may be known as bulrush, including some sedges in Scirpus and related genera.

I had heard that they were edible, but didn't realize the extent of their usefulness.  

Also from wiki
The rhizomes are edible. Evidence of preserved starch grains on grinding stones suggests they were eaten in Europe 30,000 years ago...    Many parts of the Typha plant are edible to humans. The starchy rhizomes are nutritious with a protein content comparable to that of maize or rice. They can be processed into a flour...They are most often harvested from late autumn to early spring. They are fibrous, and the starch must be scraped or sucked from the tough fibers. Plants growing in polluted water can accumulate lead and pesticide residues in their rhizomes, and these should not be eaten.  The outer portion of young plants can be peeled and the heart can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten like asparagus. This food has been popular among the Cossacks in Russia, and has been called "Cossack asparagus". The leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked, especially in late spring when they are young and tender. In early summer the sheath can be removed from the developing green flower spike, which can then be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. In mid-summer when the male flowers are mature, the pollen can be collected and used as a flour supplement or thickener.

Here's another interesting page all about cattails.

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