The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Bulrush

Afrikaans name: Papkuil

Bulrush

Photo © Steven Herbert

Typha capensis

Bulrushes are normally found in large clumps on the edges of still or slow-flowing dams, ponds or other body of water. The Bulrush can be found in most countries around the world. With their large size they need to be able to anchor themselves firmly in the substrate.

It is a perennial plant that can grow to a height of 2.5 metres. The flower is the top portion of the spike. This is the male element of the Bulrush, and it does not stay on the plant for long. The female part is the bottom portion of the spike where the fluffy seeds develop and disperse as it breaks up. The flowering period is normally between December and March.

The Bulrush has a number of uses for us. The leaves are used for weaving mats and baskets. Some people create pillows by stuffing a material case with the fluffy seeds. Other parts of the Bulrush are believed to have medicinal properties. Some species of birds use the leaves to make their nest, or they make their nest between two stems.

These large plants can be grown in gardens, but the soil needs to be waterlogged or actually under standing water. The best way to achieve this is to grow them in submerged containers.

References and further reading

Two Oceans - Author: Branch, Griffiths, Branch and Beckley - Published: 2010 - Page: 422

The Gardener - 2015/11 - Author: - Published: 2015 - Page: 37

The Gardener - 2012/11 - Author: - Published: 2012 - Page: 11

Indigenous Garden Plants of Southern Africa - Author: Glenice Ebedes - Published: 2017 - Page: 114

The Coastal Guide of South Africa - Author: Jacana Media - Published: 2007 - Page: 112

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 298

A Field Guide to Wild Flowers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 2005 - Page: 560

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