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 Typha latifolia

This is the classic tall, wide leaved rush with the brown 'flower' that looks like a bell-pull. Often shown in paintings as a small elegant clump in the corner of a pond, this rush can completely take over a small pond in a few years, unless you keep pulling it out where you don't want it to grow. However, it doesn't like to grow in water deeper than 2.5 feet, so that is another way to control it in a large pond or lake. And it is very beautiful!

The rhizomes can be consumed after cooking and removing the skin, while the peeled stems and leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked. It is not advisable to eat specimens deriving from polluted water as it absorbs pollutants. Do not eat them if they taste very bitter or spicy.

The disintegrating heads are used by some birds to line their nests. The downy material can be used as tinder for starting fires. Dragonflies seem to like breeding in ponds with this plant present.

Some Native American tribes also used Typha down to line moccasins, and for bedding, nappies, baby powder, and papoose boards. One Native American word for Typha meant "fruit for papoose's bed". Today some people still use Typha down to stuff clothing items and pillows; in Japan it was used for stuffing Futons before cotton became available. When using Typha for pillow stuffing, dense batting material is used, as the fluff may cause a skin reaction similar to urticaria

Typha can be dipped in wax or fat and then lit as a candle, the stem serving as a wick. It can also be lit without the use of wax or fat, and it will smolder slowly, somewhat like incense, and may repel insects.

Typha can be used as a source of starch to produce ethanol instead of cereals. They have the advantage that they do not require much, if any, maintenance

One informal experiment has indicated that Typha is able to remove the poisonous element arsenic from drinking water. Such a filtration system may be one way to provide cheap water filtration for people in developing nations. (From Wikipedia, the free online encyclpopedia)

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