Typha laxmannii

Common name:   Family: Typhaceae
Author: Lepech. Botanical references: 93, 200
Known Hazards: None known
Range: S.E. Europe to E. Asia.
Habitat: Lakes, rivers, ditches and wet places in Turkey93.
Edibility Rating (1-5): 4 Medicinal Rating (1-5): 1
Systematics: From a UDSA Plants Database
Order: Typhales. Cat-tail family

Physical Characteristics

Perennial growing to 1.5m at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 4. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind. It is noted for attracting wildlife. We rate it 4/5 for edibility and 1/5 for medicinal use.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires wet soil and can grow in water.

Habitats and Possible Locations

Pond, Bog Garden.

Edible Uses

Flowers; Leaves; Pollen; Root; Seed; Stem.

Roots – raw or cooked

2, 105. They can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup. The roots can also be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours183. Rich in protein, this flour is used to make biscuits, bread, cakes etc. Young shoots in spring – raw or cooked. An asparagus substitute. Base of mature stem – raw or cooked. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem. Young flowering stem – raw, cooked or made into a soup. It tastes like sweet corn. Seed – cooked. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, but has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile cropK. Pollen – raw or cooked. A protein rich additive to flour used in making bread, porridge etc183. It can also be eaten with the young flowers, which makes it considerably easier to utilize. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush9. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvestedK. Flowering stem – cooked. Tastes like sweet corn.

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Styptic.

The stamens and pollen are used as an astringent and styptic


Other Uses

Biomass; Insulation; Miscellany; Paper; Soil stabilization; Stuffing; Thatching; Weaving.

The stems have many uses, gathered in the autumn they make a good thatch, can be used in making paper, can be woven into mats, chairs, hats etc. They are a good source of biomass, making an excellent addition to the compost heap or used as a source of fuel etc. A fibre obtained from the leaves can be used for making paper

189 The leaves are harvested in summer, autumn or winter and are soaked in water for 24 hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with soda ash and then beaten in a ball mill for 1½ hours. They make a green or brown paper189. The hairs of the fruits are used for stuffing pillows etc. They have good insulating and buoyancy properties and have also been used as a wound dressing and a lining for babies nappies.. The stems can be used to make rush lights. The outer skin is removed except for a small strip, or spine, running the entire length to give stability. The stem is then soaked in oil. A fibre is obtained from the blossom stem and flowers. The pollen is highly inflammable, it is used in making fireworks etc.

Cultivation details

Grow in a rich soil in boggy pond margins or shallow water to 15cm deep1, 200. Succeeds in sun or part shade200. A very invasive plant spreading freely at the roots when in a suitable site, it is not suitable for growing in small areas200. Unless restrained by some means, such as a large bottomless container, the plant will soon completely take over a site and will grow into the pond, gradually filling it in. This species will often form an almost complete monoculture in boggy soil. Provides excellent cover for wildlife.


Seed – surface sow in a pot and stand it in 3cm of water. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible and, as the plants develop, increase the depth of water. Plant out in summer. Division in spring. Very easy, harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 – 30cm tall, making sure there is at least some root attached, and plant them out into their permanent positions.