Science notes


CATTAILS - Typha sp. Massula sp. Bulrush, Cat's Tail, Quenouille, Reed Mace, Reedmace, Rohrkolben. Russian: Rogoz. The ends of new stems and shoots are edible, until the pollen develops. Eat them raw or boiled. The lower part of the stem and roots are nutritious. Dig it with a stick and eat it raw or roasted in coals. The roots can be stored, and ground into meal. The sap is edible. Roll it into a ball. The Indians ate it with the insects included in it. The leaves are woven into mats. The female flowers make good tinder. The down is a good insulator. Stuff it into boots to prevent frostbite, and into quilts and pillows. Cattail heads are used as disposable diapers. The plant is browsed. The plant serves as a refuge for waterfowl. It can become a nuisance because it grows so profusely.

T. domingensis (T. bracteata, angustifolia, truxillensis): Cossack Asparagus, Lesser Cat Tail, Narrow Leaved Cat Tail, Maza de Aqua, Tule. Akimel: Oodvak. Seri: Pat. Ornamental. This species probably interbreeds with T. latifolia. The pollen is edible cooked. The tender white stalks and roots are edible raw year round. The rootstalks are edible. The leaves are used for epilepsy. The green leaves can be woven into mats, clothes, and roofs, and as studs in walls, and the flower stalk can be used to make baskets. The down is used to stuff pillows. The plants make a good wildlife habitat in riparian areas. They are cultivated, and yield 140 tons per acre, for 32 tons of flour. There is some suspicion this plant is poisonous to horses.

T. latifolia. Broad Leaved Cat Tail, Common Cat Tail, Common Cattail, Flat Tule, Reed Mace. Achomawi: Posuk. Akimel: Oodeak. Apwurakei: Keusarop. Astakawi: Poosahk. Atwumwe: Bosahk. Chumash: Tahkks. Costanoan: Loo pe. Cupeño: Wutish. Diné: Teel nitsaaigii "Big cattail", Txatitii "pollen", Txyeel "broad". Hammawi: Poosahk. Hupa: Klohtse. Kamia: Empiich. Kashaya: Baco. Kawaiisu: Toebah. Konomihu: Ahposetah evah. Mahdesi: Posahk. Maidu: Yahle, Bahkwhappah, Pokpok, Sowleh. Miwok: Setatagah, Pahsal, Pahtpaht, Olaewa. Monache: Taweba, Tueva. Paiute: Toieb, Toiev, Tawevah, Toieva, Tooiv. Patwin: Pokpok. Pomo: Koolah mahtah, Hahl, Ahhiah, Oshal, Kahho, Tah. Salinan: Chahl. Serrano: Turem. Shasta: Ooktoor. Shoshone: Tawe, Toi, Toiebah. Takic: Nahchtem, Kuut. Tolowa: Chahahkte. Tubatulabal: Tawepool. Wappo: Hemme. Washo: Mahhaltallolle. Wintun: Pahtpaht, Pahtpahttoo. Wiyot: Wettk. Yokuts: Kawyus, Pahtuk, Poomook, Poton, Kawt, Sooyu, Pawtuk. Kottr, Pomuk. Yuki: Awnawle. Yuma: Etpil. Ornamental. The roots, pollen spike, shoots, stalk hearts, and pods are all excellent food. Gather them from unpolluted water. The plant is rich in protein, phosphorus, sulphur, and vitamins. 20 to 30 pollen heads, mixed equally with wheat flour, will make a loaf of bread. It can be mixed with water to make dough alone or with Dandelion flowers. The plant can be used to make pickles. The early summer pollen spikes are excellent raw, cooked and eaten like corn on the cob or made into cakes or mush. Peel off all the root bark from the root ball at the base of the stalk and from the first foot or so inside the stalk above the root ball, and and eat it raw or cooked. The growth tips of the root runners are good. The first foot or so inside the stalk above the root ball is also tasty. The very young plants less than a foot high contain a delicate vegetable; hold the plant at the base and pull until it breaks. Peel the shoots and eat the solid ivory center raw or sauteed in butter. The roots are gathered in the early summer and ground into meal. They are also edible as a starchy vegetable similar to potatoes. Peel and grate the roots; eat them raw or boiled. The roots are used to heal bleeding wounds. The starchy part of the plant is good to stop bleeding. Mixed with grease, it is good for burns. The presence of this plant indicates groundwater close to the surface. Try digging for it with a stick. The leaves and stalks may be woven into sleeping mats. The down can be used to stuff pillows. Smoke from the dried smoldering punks repels mosquitoes. Light one end and blow on it to get it going. Filling for life jackets or quilts is made from the fluffy down from the exploded punks. The leaves are used as water-tight caulking material for wooden boats and barrels. The Akimel use Cattail stalks alone with Devil's Claw to make baskets. The tails are dried and used as decorations. The plants require marshy soil or water. There is some suspicion this plant is poisonous to horses. See Dandelion.

Science Notes