Bulrush and lesser bulrush, Typha latifolia and Typha angustifolia respectively
Bulrush, or common bulrush, has several other English names, such as cat’s tail, broadleaf cattail, and great reedmace. Lesser bulrush is also known as narrow-leaf cattail and lesser reedmace.
Both varieties of bulrush are great in raw salads, fried, or cooked similarly to asparagus. Its taste is somewhat similar to cucumber. The white parts of the stem are crunchy and delicious, and it’s a good idea to pull up the fresh and soft bulrushes from under the green, fibrous parts.
Something to try
Bulrush pollen contains a lot of protein. One way to use collected pollen is to add it to flour, for example for making delicious pancakes.
Gathering the plants
Always gather bulrushes only from clean waterways, as the chemical compounds and impurities in the environment are absorbed into the plants as they grow.
The stems: Collect the soft parts of the stems in June-July, before the bulrushes are in bloom. They should be cut off close to the ground. Peel off the green outer layer and rinse the remaining parts. The edible plant parts can also be used as they are, without cooking. The stem of bulrushes could be mistaken for a leek.It is also possible to eat the inflorescence (the flower cluster) of bulrushes. They are eaten in the same way as corn on the cob.
The pollen: Collect bulrush pollen in June-July, by placing a sheet of baking paper under the flower and tapping the flower from different sides. Another way is to put a paper or plastic bag over the flower. Then grip the bag and turn the flower upside down, shaking the seeds into the bag. Before using the pollen, use a sieve to remove any debris and possible insects.Pollen is highly flammable.
Other interesting facts
Bulrushes have become extremely common in Finland (as well as elsewhere) due to the eutrophication of waterways. One upside of this, however, is that bulrushes are good natural purifiers. They are effective in removing both natural nutrients and synthetic chemicals from circulating water.
There is a small risk of mistaking the iris plant, which is poisonous, for bulrush. The two plants grow in the same environment. They can be distinguished by the fact that iris, which does not produce flowers, has a flat stem. Bulrushes, by contrast, more closely resemble leeks in this respect, as both are round in cross-section.