Aug. 19, 2020

great bulrush, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

Great or softstem bulrush is one of the worlds greatest botanical success stories. It grows everywhere. Or at least everywhere there are wetlands. What makes it so great? First, it is bisexual. Here we see the flowers of a male plant. Then it is big and tough. It's the tallest of our bulrushes, with stems head high or more. It doesn't hurt that it has been a very useful plant. The lower stems and roots are eaten. There have been many medicinal uses, including treatments for bleeding, 'spoiled saliva', consumption, to cure love, and as an emetic. Softstem may have its greatest value in weaving. It's used to make mats, saddles, platters, craddles, baskets, side walls, and images of the deceased for ceremonies for the dead. Ojibwa mats made from bulrush sold for up to $23 in the 1920s. Great bulrush grows in wetlands in all states and provinces and on SPM. Ives Fen Preserve, Lenawee Co MI, 10/4/11. Sedge family, Cyperaceae.