for an aquatic or semi-aquatic, reed or sedge-like plant, that is found in a variety of wetland habitats. There are two distinct species, one known as Broadleaf Cattail or Broad-leaved Cattail (Typha latifolia), the other as Narrowleaf Cattail or Narrow-leaved Cattail (Typha angustifolia). The common names are actual translations of their
botanical designations, as the Greek word typha (τύφα) means
cattail, whereas the terms
latifolia and angustifolia originate from the Latin words latus, meaning
broad, and angustus,
narrow, while folia is the plural of
folium, which means
Hence they can be distinguished by the width of their leaves, while Broad-leaved Cattail is usually found in shallower water than Narrow-leaved Cattail.
Bulrush can grow up to 3 meters high and its distinctive stalks, which are about as tall as the sword-shaped leaves, have brown, fluffy, cigar-like flowering heads near the top. Due to the cylindrical shape of this inflorescence, Bulrush is in Thai referred to as
reusi (ธูปฤๅษี), literally
incense sticks, without making a clear distinction between the two varieties described above.
The plant flowers from May to June and reproduces by dispersing it seeds in the wind (fig.), which is responsible for the invasion of new areas, while it also reproduces vegetatively by its rhizomes, which due to their buried position in the soil and often under water, are protected from the heat of a possible fire. When aboveground foliage is consumed by fire, new top-growth will develop from the surviving underground rhizomes. Several parts of the plant, such as the
rhizomes, are edible, and the inner core of the peeled stem, which can be eaten raw, is in Vietnamese cuisine called bồn bồn. However, it is not advisable to eat from plants that grew in polluted water, as Bulrush absorbs pollutants, which affects the quality and taste, and make them unsafe to eat. Bulrush has a tolerance to high concentrations of certain heavy metals, which
it removes from the water and stores. This allows it to be employed in bioremediation treatment of contaminated water or secondary waste water, in order to remove or neutralize pollutants.