Typha are one of the most symbolic of all plants. Also known as Bulrushes, Reed Mace and Cattails, their bold, graceful, elongated seed heads are often used as logos and as an interesting subject in many paintings and also on gift cards. They are mainly a plant of the Northern Hemisphere but have now been introduced to all different corners of the globe. Unfortunately though, this has caused some serious problems in some areas as some species can be extremely invasive. However, on the positive side, their invasive nature makes an excellent breeding ground for many types of water fowl.
There are about a dozen different species and cultivars of Cattails varying in size. They are therefore, a very popular plant and used in all types of water gardening. Typha Minima is the smallest growing of the species and grows to a maximum height of 18 inches, preferring a water depth of 6 inches, therefore, making it suitable for small ponds and all types of small water designs and features. Typha Latifolia and Typha Angustifolia grow up to a height of 8ft and prefer a water depth of up to 2ft, so are therefore, used for larger planting projects including habitat replacement and natural filtration beds. The larger growing of the species usually take their place in fibreglass and lined ponds as they are non invasive when contained in aquatic baskets.
Bulrushes are deciduous and in Autumn, their seed heads ripen and then as if under pressure to escape, will explode into a mass of fluff which consists of millions of tiny seeds with individual sails that get carried by the wind on the slightest of breeze until they reach land, where they will establish themselves and start the process of growing into mature plants populating new locations.
Typhas don’t just have their place in the water garden, they are also grown for commercial uses too. For hundreds of years they have been used for thatching, building insulation and as building material for boats and rafts. They are also very edible and the tubers, stems and even young developing bulheads can be eaten raw or cooked in various ways.
Here at Lilies Water Gardens, we grow 6 different species and cultivars to suit all aspects of water gardening, however as yet, we haven’t felt the need to serve them up for dinner!!!