[permaculture] Reeds and Cattails

Harmon Seaver hseaver at gmail.com
Fri Feb 8 01:13:02 EST 2008

Toby Hemenway wrote:
> I didn't mention that my "reed" bed (I call it a constructed wetland, or 
> bog garden if the inspector is looking) contains goldstripe bulrush 
> (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontanae),  some Scirpus bulrush, yellow and 
> Siberian iris, canna lily, and dwarf and micro-dwarf cattails (Typha 
> minima). Full-size cattails can get 12 feet tall in a nice fertile 
> greywater system, and I don't have room for that in my urban yard.  The 
> dwarf types are great for home-size systems. I don't actually have reeds.

    Cattails are probably the best wetland plant for water purification,
used as such in John Todd's Living Machines
(http://www.toddecological.com/ecomachines.html and
http://www.oceanarks.org) and some progressive sewage treatment
facilities in the US.
    They are also an excellent and tasty edible (roots, young shoots,
and green seed head) and probably the best feedstock for ethanol
production there is, yielding 1500 gallons of ethanol per acre with no
fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides, and over 2500 gallons an acre
with the added nutrients from a sewage plant. See David Blume's
fantastic book "Alcohol Can Be A Gas" (http://www.permaculture.com).

Harmon Seaver

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