Water

Plasson Bell Waterer Installation Instructions

After running broilers in our Salatin-style chicken tractors for one season, we decided to upgrade watering systems. Last year (our first year raising broiler chickens), we used Salatin’s book, Pastured Poultry Profits, as our guide. Our watering system last year was awful. We used the 5 gallon galvanized waterers suspended on a chain. This was heavy and awkward. It was time consuming. We will never do this again!

We run Salatin-style chicken tractors.

We run Salatin-style chicken tractors.

After doing a bit more research we learned that Salatin uses the Plasson Bell Waterer. This may have been in the book, but I don’t think it was. Either way, the Plasson Bell Waterer is a massive step forward for us. This gravity-fed system can be attached to a 5-gallon bucket as a reservoir. It doesn’t need to be removed each watering. We can just tip it to clean it out. To replenish the water, we only have to refill the 5-gallon bucket, which sits on the top of the chicken tractor. The entire process is so much easier. If you are running the Salatin-style chicken tractors, I highly recommend this product.

There is not a great “how to” with this waterer, so I thought I would provide a step-by-step for anyone who may need one.

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All the parts from the box.

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The hanger rod screws onto the ballast bottle. This photo shows the parts from two waterers just to show the parts assembled and unassembled. The ballast bottle is filled with water to keep the waterer properly positioned.

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The waterer mechanism attaches to the bell; just insert and spin to click/lock in place on the bell.

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The ballast bottle (with attached hanger rod) and the red bell (with attached waterer mechanism).

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Just put the bell over the ballast. The hanger rod top extends up past the bell.

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Attach the handle hook to the hanger rod.

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To attach a 5-gallon bucket to the waterer system, we need to perform some DIY work. Drill a hole in the 5-gallon bucket just a bit smaller than the diameter of the hose.

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Use a pair of needle-nosed pliers as needed to pull the hose through the hole about 2 inches.

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On the waterer side of the hose, attach the union unit; just push it into the hose.

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Here is the union attached to the hose.

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Attach the union to the watering mechanism by screwing it on.

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Then attach the hose to the hose lock (the center clip on the handle hook.

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Tie the string to the cord adjuster.

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Wrap the string TWICE around the hook end of the cord adjustor. This lets you adjust the waterer down and up (right and left photo).

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I tied a loop into the string. Then the cord adjustor lets me raise or lower the height of the waterer.

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The whole unit assembled and attached to the 5-gallon bucket.

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We have water! As the water fills the bell, the bell drops (due to gravity and the weight of the water), and the water flow is shut off. This is a simple and effective design!

 

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An Introduction to Keyline

Keyline is growing in popularity around the world in both Permaculture circles and without. I think this is a wonderful thing. I have been asked numerous times to explain Keyline, Keyline Design, or the Keyline System many times over the last few years, so I thought I would finally write an article about it. Remember this is just an overview. A whole farm design will incorporate more than just what I will discuss, but this should give a good starting point of understanding for those new to the topic.

 

P.A. Yeomans

P.A. Yeomans

The Origin of Keyline

(Out of Tragedy Comes Inspiration)

The year was 1944. It was the beginning of December in the farm country about 40 miles west of Sydney, Australia. The land was hot and dry that summer. This was due to a combination of drought and misguided farming practices promoted by the soil conservation departments. Percival Alfred Yeomans (better known as P.A. Yeomans) had purchased about 1,000 acres of poor land the year prior even though he had never farmed before. P.A. Yeomans was previously a door-to-door brush salesman. Then, after completing a correspondence course in mining geology, he became a successful mining assayer, and then an even more successful earth-moving contractor.

Unfortunately, with the land being so dry, a grass fire started. These were not uncommon at that time, but this one proved tragic for P.A. His brother-in-law, Jim Barnes, who was also his farm manager, was out on the land when the fire took off. Even on horseback, he was unable to outrun the fire, and he was killed.

Out of this tragedy, inspiration came. P.A. began to analyze the situation of the dry land with his intellect and experience in mining and earthmoving. He soon determined that the land could be managed in a way to store water on the farm and to keep the soil hydrated. He developed strategies that would not only minimize the risk of racing wildfires but could also build healthy, living, fertile soils.

 

Every landscape has

Every landscape has a Keypoint. We just need to find it.

The Keypoint

(The Most Important Point on Your Land)

The Keypoint is vital to the proper implementation of Keyline. In any valley, no matter how small, there is a path down the center of that valley that water will collect and run downhill. Along this central path, the slope of the land will change from convex (where the water is shed or runs) to concave (where the water collects or slows down). You can easily see this point in the illustration. It is important to note that this transition or inflection point from convex to concave is NOT the true Keypoint according to P.A. Yeomans. Many practitioners will use this inflection point as the Keypoint, and I don’t think there is a huge difference, but it is not the same. According to Yeomans, the Keypoint is really the point just a little farther downhill, still along this central path of the valley, where the force of water movement changes from erosive to deposition. Typically, this means the Keypoint is just a bit downhill from the inflection point. On steeper slopes, the Keypoint is close to the inflection point. On more gentle slopes, the Keypoint is farther away from the inflection point.

The Keypoint and Inflection Point seen in cross-section of a valley.

The Keypoint and Inflection Point seen in cross-section of a valley.

There will be a Keypoint in every valley.

There will be a Keypoint in every valley.

From a practical standpoint, how do we actually find the Keypoint? Well, there are a number of ways to do this, and it sometimes takes a bit of time. We should start off with a topographic map if available, and this will begin to narrow our search. The more accurate the map (professional topographic survey, RTK GPS, LiDAR, etc.), the faster we will be. But a homemade map using flags and some sort of surveying device (A-frame level, Bunyip level, Laser level, etc.) can also be used. These can still be extremely accurate (just ask the ancient Egyptians!), but they may take longer to create for larger properties. I am not going to get into mapping properties or reading topographic maps now, so if you have questions about this then I would recommend watching some videos on YouTube (seriously).

The inflection point can be found in the valley where the contour lines shift from moving closer together to moving farther apart. This is best seen in the illustration. The Keypoint, as described above, will be found just a bit downhill from this inflection point. This requires actually getting out on the land and making some observations. Typically, when you are at the Keypoint, you may notice more lush grass growth, more organic matter, and/or deeper soil. I emphasize the word “may” because nature doesn’t read our textbooks. There can be a very distinct change, or it can be so subtle that we just can’t tell.

With more experience, it becomes easier and easier to find the Keypoint. I’ve seen Mark Shepard, of New Forest Farm, locate the general location of the Keypoint within just a few minutes of walking the land. It’s not voodoo, it’s experience!

In my opinion, while there may be one, exact, pinpoint Keypoint, in practice and in practical use, getting somewhere close is what matters. As long as you are at or downhill just a bit from the inflection point, you will be in good shape.

As an example, here are images from our farm, the Bauernhof Kitsteiner, in East Tennessee (USA).

The rolling hills and valleys of our pastures.

The rolling hills and valleys of our pastures at the Bauernhof.

Locating the Main Ridge, the Primary Ridges, and the Primary Valleys at our farm.

Locating the Main Ridge, the Primary Ridges, and the Primary Valleys at our farm.

Aerial map of the Bauernhof (Google Maps).

Aerial map of the Bauernhof (Google Maps). Note the green valleys (Primary Valleys) and the eroded ridges (Primary Ridges).

Topographic map of the same location as the aerial map above. (Massive thanks to Anthony Bailey for building the topographic map!).

Topographic map of the same location as the aerial map above. With a higher resolution map, we will be able to find the inflection points and get close to the Keypoint in each valley. (Massive thanks to Anthony Bailey for building the topographic map!).

 

The Keyline

(Creating the Reference Contour)

Once we have located the Keypoint, then the Keyline is a simple next step. The Keyline is just a line on contour with the Keypoint. See the illustration below. Note that the Keyline truly does not extend all the way to the ridge as there cannot be a Keypoint on the ridge. We will discuss how to handle ridges in a bit.

The Keyline is simply a contour line running through the Keypoint.

The Keyline (blue hashed line) is simply a contour line running through the Keypoint.

The first key thing to remember, no pun intended, is that the Keyline is a reference line. I sometimes call it the Keyline reference contour to remind myself that the rest of the system is based on, or referenced to, this contour line. Once we have our Keyline determined and marked, then parallel lines can be drawn on our topographic map. The parallel lines are drawn both above and below (uphill and downhill) of our Keyline.

The second key thing to remember is the relationship between the parallel lines and the land’s underlying topography. This concept is a bit more involved, but it is vital. It is the entire reason Keyline works. The relationship of the lines parallel to the Keyline with the existing topography is why Keyline Design functions.

Now let me elaborate. When we draw our parallel lines on our topographic map, we see that these lines start to cut across our land’s existing topographic contours. The parallel lines will start to transect the land’s contours. Our parallel lines move from uphill in the valley to downhill toward the ridge. Please see the illustration below to see what I mean. The result of this relationship is really important, and I will also elaborate on this in the next section, so stick with me if it’s not clear.

The water will

Each line parallel to the Keyline (dark hashed line) will move from uphill in the valley to downhill toward the ridge, and this change in elevation why Keyline Design works!

 

Keyline Plowing (Cultivating)

(Evenly Distribute Water and Build Soil)

Drawing lines on a map is great, but not very useful if we don’t do something with it. So let’s talk about using our Keyline to make a difference on the farm and on the land.

To begin, we need to understand how water wants to naturally move in the landscape. Water will always move at 90-degrees to contour (i.e. water always moves downhill). The natural tendency of water is to move from the ridges to the valleys. This is why valleys are green or even boggy in some areas and ridges are dry and therefore can sometimes become eroded.

Our goal with Keyline is to try to evenly disperse water over our landscape. This means we need to try and change the tendency of water to move from ridge to valley, and instead have it move from valley to ridge. We will not, without massive earthworks, be 100% effective in this. And we do not want to be. We don’t want to desiccate our valleys. We just want to move some of the excess water from our more wet spots to our dry spots.

Keyline Plow.

Keyline Plow.

The furrow that a Keyline Plow creates causes little disruption of the soil layers yet still lets in water and oxygen!

The furrow that a Keyline Plow creates causes little disruption of the soil layers yet still lets in water and oxygen!

They way we do this is with a subsoiler or the Keyline Plow which, in my opinion, is really just a fancy subsoiler (I know some will disagree with this!). A subsoiler is an implement that attaches to a tractor. This tillage tool was designed to break up the hard pan, i.e. the dense layer of subsoil that is often man-made when we repeatedly run tractors back and forth over the land. Use of the subsoiler results in deep furrows that loosen the soil, beak up compacted areas, and shatter the hard pan. But it does not turn the soil. This minimal disruption of the soil layers helps preserve the natural soil stratification and soil biology which is integral to farm health.

Keyline Plowing on our parallel lines.

Keyline Plowing on lines parallel to our Keyline.

In our Keyline System, we use a subsoiler (or Keyline Plow) to follow our parallel lines we created on our map. The deep furrows in the landscape therefore are running parallel to our Keyline. As on our map where the parallel lines transect the land’s existing topographic contours, our subsoiler’s furrows also transect the land’s topographic contours, and our furrows move from uphill in the valley to downhill toward the ridge. If we imagine our furrows as miniature canals, we can now start to see the magic of the Keyline system. When it rains, water will fill these little canals and flow from uphill in the valley to downhill toward the ridge, instead of moving straight downhill into the valley.panduan android

In reality, a drop of water that falls in the center of the valley is not going to travel all the way toward the ridge. The water will be absorbed into the soil well before it reaches the ridge. However, it will move toward the ridge a few millimeters or a few inches or more depending on the saturation of the soil. If every drop of rain moves a few inches toward the ridge, then we will have a net result of more hydration toward our ridges instead of away from our ridges.

The other benefit of Keyline plowing is that it gets oxygen down into the soil. We disrupt the anaerobic conditions (low oxygen) of compacted soil. When oxygen can get deeper into the soil, and the soil can stay routinely moist with our Keyline design, then the beneficial soil life can move deeper and deeper into the soil. It can also start to move into the subsoil as well. When beneficial soil life gets into the subsoil, then the subsoil will turn into topsoil. This is how we can create topsoil from the top down!

The idea with Keyline plowing is to get the subsoiling (cultivation) down as deep as you can go, within reason. Oftentimes, the first pass can only be made to a depth of a few inches although a good goal is 8 inches (20 cm). We want to get deep, but we may be limited by the soil condition or the power of the tractor we are using. If you keep breaking shear pins (the pins attach to the frame being pulled by the tractor, and these break before the subsoiler itself does – pins cost a lot less than a subsoiler shank!) than you are probably too deep. If you are using a smaller or weaker tractor, then the subsoiler will not move or will move very slow. If you can only get 2-4 inches deep (5-10 cm) on your first pass, you can immediately run a second pass in the same furrow to try to get deeper, again with a goal of about 8 inches.

The frequency of Keyline plowing will vary depending on the soil’s progress, the goals of the farm, the budget, and a number of other factors, but most landscapes will not need to be cultivated more than three times if the fields are otherwise properly managed (this is where I will unabashedly recommend Holistic Management as a tool to manage our land). These two to three subsoil plowings can take place once a year, but may also be done in early spring and late autumn of the same year, again depending on the soil and environmental conditions.

I also know that Mark Shepard will also run his subsoiler close to his treeline to act as a root trimmer. He does this early in the trees’ lives, before the roots get too large, to prevent the roots from growing out into the fields. Also, since his fields are all set up on the Keyline system, he is staying on his Keyline parallel lines when he does this.

How to plow the ridge with the Keyline System.

How to plow the ridge with the Keyline System.

The above diagram shows how to handle ridges. Basically, the tractor will follow the lowest contour at the ridge that will be subsoiled (cultivated). The pattern will work back uphill from there, blending into our lines parallel to our Keyline (i.e. the parallel lines that follow the Keyline Contour Relationship) as we transition from ridge back to valley.

 

Keypoint Dams (Ponds)


(store water high in the landscape)

In Keyline Design, we want to store water as high in the landscape as possible, but we only need to do this when appropriate. Although I really do think ponds benefit most landscapes from, at a minimum, an ecological and aesthetic perspective, not all valleys need ponds, and not all landscapes need ponds. It just depends on your goals. The benefit of water high in the landscape means that we can use gravity to move the water. Multiple ponds means less, or at least shorter, infrastructure to move the water from its source. Gravity systems may be more costly upfront, but they are more passive and enduring over time.

Keyline Dams

Keypoint Dams running.

There are many types of ponds/dams that can be built, again depending on the landscape and our goals. Without going into too much detail, the first type of pond often associated with Keyline Design is the Keypoint Dam.

The Keypoint Dam is located in the valley along our Keyline as depicted in the diagram above.  Multiple Keypoint Dams may be built, one in each valley. Water channels may also be built that collect water and transport it to the ponds. The water channels may also transport water from one pond to the next (with a very gentle slope at 1:300-400+) while also allowing irrigation to occur.

Irrigating with Keyline.

Irrigating with a Keyline water channel: temporary barriers are placed in the channel.

Irrigating with

Irrigating with a Keyline water channel: water stops at the barrier and overflows.

Irrigating with a Keyline water channel:

Irrigating with a Keyline water channel: large areas can be quickly irrigated with one person.

Another example of Keyline irrigation.

Another example of Keyline irrigation.

 

There is more to placing a Keypoint Dam than just having a valley, and there are also many other types of dams/ponds that can be built. In addition, there is more to the entire Keyline Design System or Plan (roads, trees, buildings, etc.) than presented here, and I will share more about that in the future. For now, I hope this article serves its purpose by providing an introduction to the basics concepts of Keyline.

 

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Photo References (other than the photo of P.A. Yeomans, all color photos are mine. Please ask if you’d like to use them!):

 

Permaculture Plants: Cattail, Bulrush, or Reedmace

Common Name: Cattail, Bulrush, Reedmace, Catninetail, Cumbungi, Raupo
Scientific Name: Typha species
Family: Typhaceae (a large marsh herb family)

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The classic wetland plant… a perfect permaculture plant!

Common Species (well, all of them, give or take one or two due to quibbling over nomenclature):

  • Narrow Leaf Cattail,  Lesser Bulrush, Small Reedmace, or Jambu (India) (Typha angustifolia)
  • Cape Bulrush (Typha capensis), only found in Southern Africa
  • Asian species with no common English name (Typha davidiana)
  • Bulrush, Southern Cattail, Narrow-Leaved Cumbungi (Australia) (Typha domingensis)
  • Common Cattail, Reedmace (Typha latifolia)
  • Laxman’s Bulrush (Typha laxmannii), likely the same species as Typha bungeana
  • Dwarf Bulrush (Typha minima)
  • Broadleaf Cumbungi (Australia), Raupo (New Zealand) (Typha orientalis) probably the same plant as Shuttleworth’s Bulrush (Typha shuttleworthii)
  • White Cattail (Typha x glauca) – this is a hybrid of T. angustifolia x T. latifolia
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One of the best bioremediation (water filter and such) plants on Earth.
These systems can be very intricate…

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…or less so (and less attractive!), but the Cattails don’t care, and the water is still cleaned.

Description:
Whether they are called Cattails, Bulrush, Reedmace, Cumbungi, or another local name, few people are unfamiliar with their local Typha species. This common wetland plant is one of the most versatile elements a Permaculturist can add to a land design. Most parts are edible and have been used as such for thousands of years. Animals utilize this plant for food and shelter. The leaves and stems can thatch a roof, make paper, or fuel a fire as charcoal… to name but of few of many uses. This fast growing plant is also one of the best wetland water filters on Earth. This plant should be strongly considered for any water feature you have!

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Typha species

History:
Native and widespread around the Northern Hemisphere, from just below the Arctic to the Tropics. It has been used as food, fuel, fiber, and medicine by indigenous people in these areas. It has been introduced to many new locations around the globe, and it continues to be used in many ways around the world but most commonly as either a decorative wetland plant or as a natural water filter species.

Trivia:

  • Typha × glauca – this is a hybrid cattail (T. angustifolia × T. latifolia) and is the White Cattail which is typically sterile… not a bad choice if you are concerned about spread by seed. This plant will still expand through rhizome (root) expansion.
  • Evidence of preserved starch grains on grinding stones suggests they were eaten in Europe 30,000 years ago (from Wikipedia)
  • Pulp of the Common Cattail can be used to make rayon, although wood pulp is the most common source of this semi-synthetic fiber
  • Rush Lights are a type of candle made by soaking the dried pith (inner core) of Cattail (aka “Rush”) stalks in household fat or grease; traditionally bacon fat was most common, but sheep fat was also used since it dried to a harder consistency. Beeswax was often added to make the candle burn longer
  • Pollen from Cattails is used in fireworks production
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The immature male flowers are edible and many consider it a delicacy.

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They can be cooked and eaten right off the core, or scraped off and used in many ways.

Here is one method of cooking flower spikes from Wendy Petty: http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.pt/2010/06/wild-about-cattail-flowers.html

USING THIS PLANT

Primary Uses:

  • Ornamental Plant – used in water gardens and even florist’s displays
  • Edible Roots – raw or cooked. Can be treated like potatoes.
  • Edible Shoots – young shoots can be used raw or cooked, like a cucumber-tasting asparagus (known as “Cossack Asparagus” due to their popularity with Ukranians and Russians); peel the outer layers and use the heart, ideally used before they become fibrous
  • Edible Stems – just the base, peel back the outer stem. This is the only part of this plant I have eaten so far. It was quite palatable to a 10 year old boy swimming in a pond in south Florida!
  • Edible Flower Spike – only the immature male flower spike, used raw or cooked, reportedly tastes like sweet corn
  • Edible Seed – raw or cooked, but difficult to harvest and use, but some do. An oil can be obtained from the seeds
  • Edible Pollen – raw or cooked, high in protein, added to soups as a thickener or flours as an additive
  • Flour – roots and seeds can be dried and ground into a flour. This flour can be added to cereal flours for bread making. The flour can be used as a thickening agent in soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Syrup – roots are chopped up and boiled which yields a sweet syrup

Secondary Uses:

  • General insect (especially bees) pollen plant
  • Wildlife Shelter – small mammals, birds, insects, fish (especially juvenile fish), crustaceans, etc.; birds will use the “hairs” on the fruit to line their nests
  • Wildlife Food – many animals will eat the seeds, but especially birds
  • Bioremediation Plant – beds of Cattails can be used as part of a biological filtration system to clean and purify contaminated water, often as part of a constructed wetland. This can be part of a home gray water system as well.
  • Biomass Plant – very fast growing plant can produce large amounts of organic matter in a short time
  • Fuel Plant – the dried stems and leaves can be used directly as fire fuel or to make charcoal (see the first video on this page from an MIT professor)
  • Thatch Plant – used to make thatched roofs
  • Fiber Plant – from stems, leaves, and flowers, used to make paper, mats, hats, chairs, baskets, etc.
  • Tinder Plant – the female flowers have been used as tinder to start fires
  • Other uses – the hairs of the fruits are used to stuff pillows, diapers, and wound dressings; the flowering stems can be dried and used as insulation

Yield: Variable, in one study, 2.5 acres (1 hectare) produced 8 tons (16,000 lbs or 7,250 kg) of flour from the roots.
Harvesting: One report states the roots are best when harvested in Autumn through to Spring. Shoots are harvested in Spring until 20 inches (50 cm) tall. The leaves can be harvest year-round, but typically less in the Spring when rapid growth is underway.
Storage: Use within a few days fresh. The roots and seeds can be dried and stored whole or ground into flour. Flour does not store as long as whole seeds or roots.

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The rhizomes (type of root) grow and allow the plant to spread… and they are edible!

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-12

  • Narrow Leaf Cattail,  Lesser Bulrush (Typha angustifolia): Zone 3-11
  • Bulrush, Southern Cattail (Typha domingensis): Zone 5-11
  • Common Cattail, Reedmace (Typha latifolia): Zone 2-11
  • Laxman’s Bulrush (Typha laxmannii): Zone 4
  • Dwarf Bulrush (Typha minima): Zone 6
  • White Cattail (Typha x glauca): Zone 3-11 (probably Zone 2 as well)

AHS Heat Zone: 12-1
Chill Requirement: Unlikely.

Plant Type: Herbaceous Wetland Plant
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Aquatic/Wetland Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: There are a number of species and varieties available

Pollination: Self-fertile – these plants are considered monoecious... a single plant will have both male and female flowers. The male flowers (staminate) are at the top, and they wither away after they release their pollen. The female flowers, produced in large number and make up the classic sausage-shaped structure on the Cattail, are located just below the male flowers. Pollinated by the wind.
Flowering: Summer

Life Span:

  • Years to Begin Fruiting: 2 years
  • Years to Maximum Fruiting: 3-4 years
  • Years of Useful Life: No good information available as we typically harvest bulbs and eat them. Considering that the plants can be propagated from bulb division, an individual’s life span is likely irrelevant.
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The male flowers are the source of pollen… which is also edible!

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Cattail pollen pancakes… I can’t wait to try these… they are gluten-free, too!

Another couple links to recipes using cattail pollen:
http://www.greatnorthernprepper.com/foraging-cattails/
http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.pt/2010/06/wild-about-cattail-pollen.html

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT

Size:

  • Narrow Leaf Cattail,  Lesser Bulrush (Typha angustifolia): 3-6 feet (0.9-1.8 meters) tall
  • Cape Bulrush (Typha capensis): 3.25 feet (1 meter) tall
  • Asian species (Typha davidiana): 3.25 feet (1 meter) tall
  • Bulrush, Southern Cattail (Typha domingensis): 6-9 feet (1.8-2.7 meters) tall
  • Common Cattail, Reedmace (Typha latifolia): 5-10 feet (1.5-3 meters) tall. Will grow in water depth of 2-3 feet (0.75-1 meters).
  • Laxman’s Bulrush (Typha laxmannii): 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall
  • Dwarf Bulrush (Typha minima): 1-3 feet (30-90 cm) tall
  • Broadleaf Cumbungi (Typha orientalis): 9-13 feet (2.7-4 meters) tall
  • White Cattail (Typha x glauca): 3-9 feet (0.9-2.7 meters) tall

Roots: Rhizomes, new shoots will develop from the spreading rhizome layer
Growth Rate: Fast

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The fruit of the Cattail is composed of these soft hairs which have been used to stuff pillow, start fires, and line birds’ nests.

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Rushlights are candles made by soaking the dried pith (inner core) of Cattail (aka “Rush”) stalks in household fats. They were so common at one time that special holders were made specifically for them… these are now considered antiques.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Does not like shade
Moisture: Wet, boggy soils to fully aquatic conditions.
pH: tolerates a very wide range of soil conditions

Special Considerations for Growing:
This is a fast growing plant. Some consider it invasive. However, at least one species is native to most parts of the world. Just be wise in where you plant this species.

Propagation:
Seed – sown just at the surface and flooded. Young plants can slowly have the water depth increased. It is much easier to propagate through division in Spring. Divide the shoots from the mother plant, and just plant any shoots that have roots attached.

Maintenance: 

  • This depends on what you are doing with it. If you have a native stand, then there is not much needed to be done.
  • However, considering how fast this grows, it makes an excellent nutrient recycler… plant a bed of Cattails at the lowest level where water exits the property. Once or twice a year, significantly cut back the stalks and leaves and use these as mulch or compost higher up in the property. The rhizomes can be harvested at this same time for food or division.

Concerns:

  • Cattails can accumulate large quantities of toxins, which make it a great water-cleaning/filter plant, but can make consumption of this plant potentially hazardous if grown in contaminated sites.
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The edible young shoots are prized in Ukraine and Russia and are known as “Cossack Asparagus”

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Photo References:

  • http://www.cattails.info/images/cattails_8yyb.jpg
  • http://www.malag.aes.oregonstate.edu/wildflowers/images/CattailFruitland_2.JPG
  • http://truepsychicsnetwork.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/cattail.jpg
  • http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_1C72BiCMjz4/TCZque1QaSI/AAAAAAAAAiY/gpT2wWJ8bVM/s1600/i+only+eat+the+boys.jpg
  • http://artemisherbals.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/cattails-cleaneds.jpg
  • http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/reedmace-rhiz+shoots-feb.jpg
  • http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/reedmace-rhizomes-peeled.jpg
  • http://farm1.staticflickr.com/249/526680430_51bfd8e41f_z.jpg?zz=1
  • http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_1C72BiCMjz4/TCkaSwkT2TI/AAAAAAAAAi4/yvW9Egq1DU4/s1600/cattail-flower-with-pollen.jpg
  • http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1C72BiCMjz4/TCko_ApEkpI/AAAAAAAAAjY/QRxC_XY-gQk/s1600/cattail-pollen-pancakes-gluten-free.jpg
  • http://www.greatnorthernprepper.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/cattail-pollen.jpg
  • http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/05/31/garden/31graywater.span.jpg
  • http://www.dancingrabbit.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/IMG_1984.jpg
  • http://artantiquesmichigan.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/rushlight_6.jpg
  • http://www.bio.brandeis.edu/fieldbio/medicinal_plants/images/cattail_many_full.jpg