The broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia L.) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Typhaceae family.
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the.
T. latifolia species.
The following terms are synonymous:
– Massula latifolia (L.) Dulac;
– Typha ambigua Schur ex Rohrb .;
– Typha angustifolia brownii Kronf .;
– Typha angustifolia inaequalis Kronf .;
– Typha angustifolia media Kronf .;
– Typha angustifolia sonderi Kronf .;
– Typha angustifolia uechtritzii Kronf .;
– Typha crassa Raf .;
– Typha elatior Boreau;
– Typha elatior Raf .;
– Typha elongata Dudley;
– Typha engelmannii A.Br. ex Rohrb .;
– Typha intermedia Schur;
– Typha latifolia elatior Graebn .;
– Typha major Curtis;
– Typha media Pollini;
– Typha palustris Bubani;
– Typha pendula Fisch. ex Sond .;
– Typha remotiuscula Schur;
– Typha spathulifolia Kronf ..
The term Typha comes from the Greek τύφη týphe (according to the Rocci τίφη típhe) rush of water (in Theophrastus), from τϊφος típhos swamp.
The specific epithet latifolia comes from latus largo, extended and from fólium leaf: with wide leaves.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Typha latifolia is a plant present all over the world from the Arctic to latitude 30 ° S, including Great Britain but absent from Africa, South Asia.
In Italy it is widespread in almost the entire region, with gaps in the mountainous part.
Its habitat is that of humid environments, such as ditches, banks of ponds and reeds, still or slowly flowing waters, often forming pure populations, from the coast to the lower mountain belt. It is also very present in estuaries and brackish water lagoons.
Typha latifolia is a perennial herb that can grow up to a height of 250 cm and which develops from a rhizome.
The female inflorescences are formed by thousands of tiny brown colored flowers surrounded by hairs.
The Infructescence is brownish-red in color, cylindrical formed by thousands of fusiform, longitudinally furrowed cypseles, about 1-1.5 mm, with pericarp not adherent to the seed and at the end dehiscent with the transparent bristles of the perianth.
Typha latifolia is a plant with a prevalent presence in temperate climate areas but which extends into subtropical regions and is also found, mainly at higher altitudes, in some tropical areas.
The plant grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are between 10 and 25 ° C but can tolerate between 6 and 30 ° C.
It is very tolerant of cold when dormant even if the growth of young seedlings can be damaged by frosts. It prefers an average annual rainfall between 500 and 1,500 mm, but tolerates 300 – 4,000 mm.
For better development it is better to choose an area in the sun or in partial shade.
It is a very easily cultivable plant, which grows well in the marshy margins of ponds or in shallow water up to 15 cm deep. It grows in both acid and limestone and with an average content of organic matter. The pH must be between 4.5 and 7.5, but it also tolerates values of 3.7 – 8.
This plant reproduces by seed which is sown on the surface in a container left at 3 cm of water. The young seedlings must be repotted as soon as possible and, as the plants develop, the depth of the water must be increased.
Multiplication can also occur by division; in this case it is necessary to collect the young shoots when they are about 10-30 cm high, making sure that there are at least some roots attached in order to plant them in their permanent positions.
Customs and Traditions –
Typha latifolia, in Italy, is known by many local names, including Lisca maggiore, Cattail with broad leaves, stiancia, schiancia and others.
Its rhizome was already used in the Upper Paleolithic as bread, in recent archaeological research stone millstones dating back to 30,000 years B.C. have been found. which bore traces of Typha’s starch.
This plant is used for food use.
The rhizomes can be eaten raw or cooked and have a sweet taste.
Typha rhizomes contain about 30% – 46% starch. The core of these rhizomes can be ground into a flour. One hectare of plants would produce about 7 tons of flour per year. This flour would probably contain around 80% carbohydrates and around 6% – 8% protein. Since these species are present all over the world, plants are a potential food source for the world population.
The young shoots of this plant can be harvested in the spring and eaten raw or cooked. These are a substitute for asparagus and have a cucumber flavor. The shoots can still be used when they are up to 50 cm long.
For consumption it is best to remove the outer part of the stem. The base of the stems where it attaches to the rhizome can be boiled or roasted like potatoes and are called “Cossack asparagus”.
The seed is quite small and easy to use, but has a pleasant nutty flavor when roasted. This can be ground, obtaining a flour and used to prepare cakes etc.
An edible oil is obtained from the seed.
The seeds contain around 18-20% oil, of which 69% is linolenic acid. Unfortunately, due to the small size of the seed, this is probably not a very useful crop.
Pollen, both raw and cooked, can be used as a protein-rich additive to flour when making bread, porridge, etc.
The pollen, which is a bright yellow or green color, turns the pancakes, cookies or cookies into a nice yellow color.
Pollen can be collected by placing the flowering stem on a large but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing off the pollen with a thin brush.
Typha latifolia is also used as a medicinal plant.
The leaves are diuretic and, especially in the past, they were mixed with oil and used as a poultice on sores.
Pollen is astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, hemostatic, coolant, sedative, suppurative and vulnerable. Dried pollen is said to be anticoagulant, but when roasted with charcoal it becomes hemostatic. It is used internally in the treatment of kidney stones, bleeding, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, postpartum pain, abscess and cancer of the lymphatic system, however it should not be prescribed to pregnant women. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhea and injuries.
For the treatment of whooping cough, a decoction of stems was used.
The roots are diuretic, galactagogues, refrigerants and tonic.
The flowers are used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including abdominal pain, amenorrhea, cystitis, dysuria, metrorrhagia and vaginitis. Young flower heads are eaten as a treatment for diarrhea.
The sprouting seed was used as a condiment on burns and scalds.
In addition to food and medicinal uses, Typha latifolia is used in agroforestry uses.
The plant’s extensive root system makes it excellent for stabilizing the wet banks of rivers, lakes, etc.
It can be grown in reed beds and other water purification systems in order to remove various types of pollutants from water and soil. The top growth is removed once or twice during the growing season: it can be used as fuel or the materials recovered from it.
Among other uses we emphasize the stems and the leaves have many uses. Harvested in the fall they make good straw, used on roofs, to make walls and floor coverings.
These can be used in weaving to make items such as mats, chairs, hats, and other handicrafts. Also, they can be used as caulking material for barrels, boats, etc.
The pulp of the plant can be converted into rayon.
The stem, previously worked, when immersed in oil can be lit and used as a candle.
A Typha latifolia plant produces large quantities of biomass, comparable to more productive agricultural crops. This is a potential source of energy – it can, for example, be used for the production of alcohol.
At home, the stalks are an excellent addition to the compost pile or they can be dried and used as a fuel source etc.
From the stem of the flower and from the flowers, a fiber has been obtained that can be used for making paper.
In this case the leaves are harvested in summer, autumn or winter and soaked in water for 24 hours before cooking. The fibers are cooked for 2 hours with sodium carbonate and then macerated in a mill for 1 hour and a half. They make a green or brown card.
Fruit hair is used as a filling material for pillows, mattresses, toys, etc. these have good buoyancy properties and have been used in life jackets. They also have excellent insulation properties and have been used in construction and as a lining for baby diapers.
Pollen is highly flammable and is used to make fireworks, etc.
This plant is also used by florists as a decoration, especially the inflorescence that is dried.
Its long leaf, with a cellular structure, was used by master coopers as an elastic sealant to be inserted between the staves of the wooden barrels and to “tin” any leaks between the staves or between the “capruggine” (joint between the bottom of the barrel and the staves side) to repair wooden barrels. It was also used for the protection of glass flasks, the famous Tuscan flasks were all protected by “scarsica” leaves. If divided into strips, it was used in agriculture to tie vegetables to the stakes. Its dried inflorescence was used in farriery to stuff saddles, saddles, collars and the state railways used it for the cushions of 1st class carriages.
Furthermore, in addition to its use as a plant for constructed wetlands, it is useful for recreating the marshy environment in the ornamental pond which will bring benefits to the quality of the water and its general stability.
However, remember that Typha latifolia is a very invasive plant that spreads freely to the roots when in a suitable site. This is fine when growing in its natural habitat, but the plant can become a serious pest in managed aquatic systems around the world, where it can invade canals, ditches, reservoirs, crop fields and agricultural ponds; can be annoying in recreational lakes; and it can reduce biodiversity and displace more desirable species for some types of wildlife. For this reason it should only be introduced into areas outside its native range with the utmost care.
Furthermore, from an ecological point of view, it provides excellent coverage for wild birds.
Preparation Method –
The rhizomes of Typha latifolia are best harvested from late autumn to early spring since in this period they are richer in starch.
These can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to make a sweet syrup.
The rhizomes 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 to make bread, cookies, muffins, etc.
From a medicinal point of view, the roots are pounded to form a gelatinous consistency and applied as a poultice to wounds, cuts, boils, sores, carbuncles, inflammations, burns and scalds.
– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.