Typha

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cattails

cattails

Look like hotdogs on a stick. They grow at the edge of water and ponds. You can use the reeds (leaves) and weave them together to make a basket that can last 20 years. The white tender root in the springtime can be eaten raw or cooked and tastes like potato or carrot. Helps detoxify, chelate and remove heavy metals from the body. The green shoots when they are fresh in the springtime can be eaten raw in a salad, or cooked in a stir fry like spinach. When the hot dog thing is green early in the year, cut it off, steam or throw in boiling water, put butter and salt on it, tastes like sweet corn and is probably more nutritious than corn. As the year progresses and the hot dog turns brown and becomes furry, take it and grind into a flour with mortar and pestle. This can be done year round, including the winter months when the hot dogs stick up through the snow. You can do the same thing with the root, but you need a shovel to dig it out. It's a mangled ball of white starch which you can peel, dry and grind into a powder and make flatbread from it.

Typha

 

(cattail), a genus of monocotyledonous plants of the family Typhaceae. Cattails are monoecious perennial aquatic or marsh grasses measuring 3–4 m tall and having a long and thick creeping rootstock. The sheath leaves, which are mostly broadly or narrowly linear, emerge from the base of the stem and sometimes exceed the stem in height. The small flowers are unisexual: the staminate flowers are naked, and the pistillate flowers have a perianth composed of many long, fine hairs. The flowers are gathered at the tip of the stem into two dense, usually cylindrical, clusters. The upper cluster is loose and narrow and consists of staminate flowers; the lower cluster is broad and dense, ranging in color from light to dark brown and consisting of three types of pistillate flowers. The fruit is a nutlet with a pappus of long hairs.

There are about 20 species of cattail, distributed in almost all parts of the world. The USSR has approximately 15 species, including the common cattail (T. latifolia), the narrow-leaved cattail (T. angustifolia), and T. laxmannii. Cattails grow, sometimes in dense thickets, in the European USSR, the Caucasus, Siberia, and Middle Asia. The species T. australis (formerly T. angustata) is widely distributed in Middle Asia.

Cattails are used as silage and building material; they are also used in the production of paper. The leaves are used for weaving baskets, mats, and twine. The rhizome is rich in starch and a favorite food of muskrats, coypus, desmans, and other animals. The bract hairs are used to make cellulose and photographic film; they are also mixed with animal hairs to make felt. Life jackets are sometimes stuffed with cattail fiber. Some cattails grow as weeds in rice fields.

T. G. LEONOVA

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