Typha capensis

Typha capensis

Common Names

Bulrush (english)
Papkuil (afrikaans)
iBhuma (zulu)
ingcongolo (xhosa)

Taxonomy

Family TYPHACEAE
Genus Typha
Species capensis
SA Plant Number
Basionym Typha capensis

Description

Typha capensis is a very hardy reed that can be either evergreen or deciduous depending on local climate.  It is robust, fast-growing and is widespread.  It only grows partially submerged in water. It has long, grey-green stems with blue-green leaves.

From December to January, the stems end in the typical, cylindrical, velvety brown ‘Bulrush’ flower. These turn into seeds covered in ‘cotton wool’ which helps with dispersal of seeds.

This ‘cotton wool’ is used to stuff cushions.

It has many traditional and medicinal uses.

The Bulrush can be used in boggy areas, among wet pebbles and is one of the best plants to clean grey water. It helps to keep pond water clean and healthy. It is used extensively for the rehabilitation of wetlands and other permanently wet areas. This plant creates vital habitat for many bird species, fish fry, frogs, terrapins and many other aquatic creatures.

This plant spreads quite aggressively by its rhizomes and should only be planted in containers in garden ponds where it can be controlled.

Plant in full sun and prune and clean once a year.

Size: 1 to 2.5m

Wildlife

Habitat for wildlife:

Bulrushes provide vital habitat for birds, fish fry, frogs, terrapins and many other aquatic creatures.

Uses

Landscaping:
  • Rehabilitation of wetlands and other permanently wet areas.
  • Cleaning grey water.
Traditional:
  • The "Cotton Wool" was used to stuff cushions.
  • The strong leaves are used for thatching, mat and basket making.
Medicinal:

According to Margaret Roberts' "Indigenous Healing Plants":

  • The roots are harvested for making a tea and / or decoction used as a variety of medicinal treatments for men, women and animals.
  • Tswana people use the soft "wool" of the seeds to pack around a wound to staunch the bleeding.
  • Shangaan people use twisted. softened leaves to secure bandages on wounds and sprains.

Distribution

Limpopo, North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal, Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Western Cape

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