Amenorrhea (f; DAW); Anodyne (f; DAW); Anorexia (f; UPW); Bite (f; EB29:7); Bleeding (1; BIB; EB29:20); Boil (f; DEM); Bruise (f; DAW); Burn (f; BUR; DEM; GHA; EB29:20); Cancer (f; DEM); Carbuncle (f; DEM); Chafing (f; DEM); Childbirth (f; DAW; ZUL); Circulosis (f; ZUL); Cramp (f; DEM); Cyanogenic (f1; EB30:400); Cyst (f; DEM); Cystosis (f; ZUL); Dermatosis (f; DEM); Diarrhea (f; DEM; ZUL; EB29:20); Dropsy (f; EB29:20); Dysentery (f; KAB; WOI; EB29:20); Dysuria (f; EB29:20); Ecchymosis (f; DAW); Enterosis (f; BUR; DAW; DEM); Epilepsy (f; AAH; BIB; EB29:7; EB24:265); Epistaxis (f; DAW); Erysipelas (f; FEL; EB29:7); Fever (f; EB29:7); Gastrosis (f; BUR; DEM); Gonorrhea (f; DEM; FEL; WOI; EB29:20); Gravel (f; DEM); Hematemesis (f; DAW); Hematochezia (f; DAW; EB29:20); Hematuria (f; DAW); Hemoptysis (f; DAW); Hemorrhoid (f; DAW); Impotence (f; DAW; EB29:20); Infection (f; DEM); Infertility (f; ZUL); Inflammation (f; DEM; EB29:20); Insanity (f; EB29:7); Kidney stone (f; DEM); Leprosy (f; DEM); Leucorrhea (f; DAW); Madness (f; BIB EB24:265); Mastosis (f; DAW; DEM); Measles (f; KAB; WOI; EB29:20); Metrorrhagia (f; DAW; ZUL); Metroxenia (f; DAW); Mucososis (f; BUR); Nephrosis (f; ZUL); Ophthalmia (f; FEL; KAB; EB29:20); Pain (f; DAW); Pertussis (f; DEM); Proctosis (f; EB29:7); Scald (f; DEM); Smallpox (f; DEM); Snakebite (f; EB29:7); Sore (f; DEM; KAB; EB29:20); Splenosis (f; KAB); Sprain (f; ZUL); Stone (f; DEM); Strangury (f; KAB); Swelling (f; DAW; FEL); Thrush (f; EB29:7; EB29:20); Toothache (f; AAH); Tumor (f; BIB; FEL; EB29:20); Ulcer (f; DAW); Urethro-sis (f; ZUL); Uterosis (f; EB29:20); Vaginosis (f; DAW); Venereal Disease (f; BUR; DAW; DEM); Worm (f; DAW); Wound (f1; BIB; DAW; KAB; EB29:20); Yeast (f; EB29:7). Very few of these folk uses have proven out, but I would not hesitate to try any for any of these indications, if nothing else were available. Many folk medicines prove to have good phytochemical rationales when analyzed.
Dosages (Generic Catail):
Facciola lists five edible species of Typha. Young shoots, inflorescence, tender leaves, and rhizomes are eaten in various ways. Flowers and anthers are made into a sweetmeat. The sweet and soft marrow of the immature spike is considered a delicacy. Pollen is used to make bread or porridge. My first bag of cattail pollen, when taken indoors, resulted in the window pane being clouded with thousands of thrips (BIB; EAS; FAC).
• Arabians apply dried crushed flowers to cool or soothe burns (GHA).
• Chileans use decoction of T. angustifolia roots to wash tumors (JLH).
• Gaelic's, calling the plant what translates to "fairy wives' spindle," gathered the plant on a midsummer midnight wrapping it in a shroud, to prevent epilepsy and all other diseases (AAH).
• Hispaniolans suggest the root is aphrodisiac.
• Irish somehow use the plant for toothache (AAH).
• North Africans apply ashes of the rhizome to wounds to stop bleeding (BOU).
• Peruvians treat burns with hairs from the flower spikes (EGG)
• Peruvians make a cicatrizant pomade from cattail charcoal with oil (EGG).
• Peruvians use the buds as astringent and diuretic (EGG).
Natural History (Generic Cattail):
Most cattails are partially or entirely self-fertilized. Their own pollen sheds from above. A spider (Clubiona riparia) uses the leaf tip for both nursery and coffin. This sac spider folds down the leaf tip to make an enclosure fastened and lined with silk. Inside, it deposits its egg sac and simply remains there, dying inside its cage. The first meal of its young will be the mother's body. Sap-sucking leaf feeders include about a dozen species of aphids. The cattail borer moth (Bellura obliqua) mines downward in the leaf, eating out the transverse partitions and finally exiting through a hole at the end of its mine. Later, it bores into the stem. Related species include the white-tailed diver (B. gortynoides), the pickerelweed borer (B. densa), and the oblong sedge borer (Archanara oblonga). The smartweed caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita) feeds on the leaves. Some insects feed only on and in the flower and seed spikes. Larvae include Dicymolomia julianalis, a pyralid moth, which later bores into the stem. A neat, bite-sized chunk from a brown seed spike may indicate the white-veined dagger moth caterpillar, also called Henry's marsh moth (Simyra henrici); later, the tufted caterpillar makes a vertically aligned cocoon in a folded leaf. Syrphid flies may cluster head downward on the male spike (aphid eaters). Small, brownish adult cattail moths (Limnaecia phragmitella, also called the shy cosmet, a cosmopterygid) laying eggs on maturing female spikes. A dying cattail stem may signal that a stalk borer fed in the leaves or seed spike. Other common borers include snout beetles such as Sphenophorus pertinax, a billbug; and Suphisellus puncticol-lis, a burrowing water beetle. Red-winged blackbirds have nested in my cattail bog for years now. In cold weather, they may forage on the batons, probably more seeking large caterpillars or grubs rather than small seed. (Eastman estimates 220,000 seeds per spike. A single seed may produce a rhizomal growth some 10 feet in diameter with a hundred clonal shoots.) Few birds really eat the seed. Martin et al. list teal, geese, and sandpipers, gulf coast blue geese sometimes having as much as 25 to 50% seed and/or rootstocks. Teal may sometimes have more than a thousand seeds in their gut. Attesting to the intelligence of birds, Eastman speculates that bluejays have learned to cache corn grains in old cattail sausage tied together by silk of caterpillar, keeping their corn in relatively "dry storage" that way. Painted turtles eat the seeds and stems. Muskrats often dislodge the plants as they feed on cattail, its primary food. Many muskrats will attract the muskrat predator, mink (EAS; MZN). I once caught a mink's foot in one of my traps — no longer do I trap.
Boost your immune system and think positively if you study long in the cattail swamps. There can be significant midsummer populations of the cattail mosquito (Coquillettidia), the chief vector of eastern equine encephalitis. Larvae overwinter attached to roots of cattails and other aquatic plants. Adults get the virus from birds (which are unaffected) and transmit the virus when they bite humans and horses (EAS). (Sounds too much like the bird flu coming soon from Asia; Echinacea, elderberry, and garlic, here I come!). The cucumber mosaic virus has been reported from Typha angustifolia, the wheat streak mosiac from T. latifolia. Among the fungus diseases on Typha latifo-lia are Cladosporium, Cryptomela typhae, Didymosphaeria typhae, Gloeosporium sp., Guignardia sp., Hendersonia typhae, Heterosporium maculatum, Hymenopsis hydrophila, Leptosphaeria spp., Leptothyrium typhina, Lophodermium typhinum, Mycosphaerella typhae, Ophiobolus sp., Phoma orthosticha, Phyllosticta typhina, Pleospora typhae, Pythiogeton autossytum, Pythium helicoides, Sclerotium hydrophilum, Scolecotrichum typhae, Stagonospora typhoidearum, and Typhula latis-sima. The nematode Meloidogyne sp. is also reported (HOE).
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