Typha orientalis

Common name:   Family: Typhaceae
Author: C.Presl. Botanical references: 1, 58, 265
Synonyms: Typha japonica
Known Hazards: None known
Range: E. Asia – Japan to Australia.
Habitat: Ponds and riversides in lowland areas all over Japan58.
Edibility Rating (1-5): 4 Medicinal Rating (1-5): 3
Other Common Names: From various places around the Web, may not be correct. See below.
Hsiang P’U E, P’U O E, P’U Sun E,
Epithets: From a Dictionary of Botanical Epithets
orientalis = eastern;
Systematics: From a UDSA Plants Database
Order: Typhales. Cat-tail family
Other Range Info: From the Ethnobotany Database

Physical Characteristics

Perennial growing to 3m at a fast rate. . 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. We rate it 4/5 for edibility and 3/5 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

105, 153. They are usually peeled before use173. The roots can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup. They can also be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours. Rich in protein, this flour is used to make biscuits, bread, cakes etc. The root contains a lot of fibre193. One way to remove this fibre is to peel lengths of the root that are about 20 – 25cm long, place them by a fire for a short while to dry and then twist and loosen the fibres when the starch of the root can be shaken out193. Young shoots in spring – raw or cooked105, 173, 178, 193. 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 soup105. 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 cooked153, 173. 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

Anticoagulant; Astringent; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Galactogogue; Haemostatic; Tonic.

The pollen is astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, haemostatic and

176, 178. The dried pollen is said to be anticoagulant, but when roasted with charcoal it becomes haemostatic238. It is used internally in the treatment of kidney stones, haemorrhage, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, post-partum pains, abscesses and cancer of the lymphatic system222, 238. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women238. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhoea and injuries238.

Other Uses

Biomass; Fibre; 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

153, 173, 178. 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 paper189 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. A fibre is obtained from the blossom stem and flowers. A fibre obtained from the roots can be used for making string193. The hairs of the fruits are used for stuffing pillows etc173. 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. 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. Plants can be very invasive, spreading freely at the roots when in a suitable site200. 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.