Typha

cattails

These two views of Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity across Sapsucker Woods Pond on a March afternoon are separated by 12 months, a year. Wilson Trail, Sapsucker Woods, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York.

Click Me for “Finger Lakes Memories” my online gallery.

2023 using the IPhone 14 ProMax triple camera, raw format, edited on the phone

In the foreground is the cattail plant, the North American species Typha latifolia.  There are over 30 species in this useful genera. 

2022 using the IPhone 7 back camera

Culinary

Many parts of the Typha plant are edible to humans. Before the plant flowers, the tender inside of the shoots can be squeezed out and eaten raw or cooked. The starchy rhizomes are nutritious with a protein content comparable to that of maize or rice. They can be processed into flour with 266 kcal per 100 grams and are most often harvested from late autumn to early spring. They are fibrous, and the starch must be scraped or sucked from the tough fibers.  Baby shoots emerging from the rhizomes, which are sometimes subterranean, can be picked and eaten raw. Also underground is a carbohydrate lump which can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked like a potato. The plant is one championed by survival experts because various parts can be eaten throughout the year. Plants growing in polluted water can accumulate lead and pesticide residues in their rhizomes, and these should not be eaten.

The rind of young stems can be peeled off, and the tender white heart inside can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten like asparagus. This food has been popular among the Cossacks in Russia and has been called “Cossack asparagus.” The leaf bases can be eaten raw or cooked, especially in late spring when they are young and tender. In early summer the sheath can be removed from the developing green flower spike, which can then be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob. In mid-summer when the male flowers are mature, the pollen can be collected and used as a flour supplement or thickener.

Agriculture

The seeds have a high linoleic acid content and can be used to feed cattle and chickens. They can also be found in African countries like Ghana.

Harvesting cattail removes nutrients from the wetland that would otherwise return via the decomposition of decaying plant matter.  Floating mats of cattails remove nutrients from eutrophic bodies of freshwater.

Building material

For local native tribes around Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia, Typha were among the most important plants and every part of the plant had multiple uses. For example, they were used to construct rafts and other boats.

During World War II, the United States Navy used the down of Typha as a substitute for kapok in life vests and aviation jackets. Tests showed that even after 100 hours of submersion, the buoyancy was still effective.

Typha are used as thermal insulation in buildings as an organic alternative to conventional insulating materials such as glass wool or stone wool.

Paper

Typha stems and leaves can be used to make paper. It is strong with a heavy texture and it is hard to bleach, so it is not suitable for industrial production of graphical paper. In 1853, considerable amounts of cattail paper were produced in New York, due to a shortage of raw materials.[33] In 1948, French scientists tested methods for annual harvesting of the leaves. Because of the high cost, these methods were abandoned, no further research was done. Today Typha is used to make decorative paper.

Fiber

Fibers up to 4 meters long can be obtained from the stems when they are treated mechanically or chemically with sodium hydroxide. The stem fibers resemble jute and can be used to produce raw textiles. The leaf fibers can be used as an alternative to cotton and linen in clothing. The yield of leaf fiber is 30 to 40 percent and Typha glauca can produce 7 to 10 tons per hectare annually.

Biofuel

Typha can be used as a source of starch to produce ethanol. Because of their high productivity in northern latitudes, Typha are considered to be a bioenergy crop.

Other

The seed hairs were used by some indigenous peoples of the Americas[which?] as tinder for starting fires. Some tribes also used Typha down to line moccasins, and for bedding, diapers, baby powder, and cradleboards. One Native American word for Typha meant “fruit for papoose’s bed”. Typha down is still used in some areas to stuff clothing items and pillows. Typha can be dipped in wax or fat and then lit as a candle, the stem serving as a wick. Without the use of wax or fat it will smolder slowly, somewhat like incense, and may repel insects.

The flower stalks can be made into chopsticks. The leaves can be treated to weave into baskets, mats, or sandals. The rushes are harvested and the leaves often dried for later use in chair seats. Re-wetted, the leaves are twisted and wrapped around the chair rungs to form a densely woven seat that is then stuffed (usually with the left over rush).

Small-scale experiments have indicated that Typha are able to remove arsenic from drinking water.[37][38] The boiled rootstocks have been used as a diuretic for increasing urination, or mashed to make a jelly-like paste for sores, boils, wounds, burns, scabs, and smallpox pustules.

Cattail pollen is used as a banker source of food for predatory insects and mites (such as Amblyseius swirskii) in greenhouses. The cattail, or, as it is commonly referred to in the American Midwest, the sausage tail, has been the subject of multiple artist renditions, gaining popularity in the mid-twentieth century. The term, sausage tail, derives from the similarity that cattails have with sausages, a name given to the plant by the Midwest Polish community who had noticed a striking similarity between the plant and a common Polish dish, kieĊ‚basa. 

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Nature and Big Names

barns by other names

View of Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity from an unnamed boardwalk on an unnamed path from the parking lot. Sapsucker Woods, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

From an unnamed boardwalk on an unnamed path from the parking lot. Sapsucker Woods, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York

An iced over, thawing in the March sunshine, leads to a view of Kip’s Barn that, I believe, is named for Austin Kiplinger (Cornell Graduate of 1939) the longest serving trustee in Cornell history.

Click me for more information https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/11/legendary-cornellian-austin-kiplinger-39-dies-age-97

Click Me for “Finger Lakes Memories” my online gallery.

Copyright 2023 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Frozen Fall Creek II

Natural Ice Sculpture

My last post, “Frozen Fall Creek I”, ended with macros of Ice Crystals on a bed of frost over creek ice within sight of our former home, a restored water mill. I continued on the ice, following the creek to this spot were the stream bed turns 90 degrees, changing from a southerly to a western flow.

Here I encountered an open course where constant water motion resisted freezing. A few frigid days later, the course had an amazing transformation.

Last To Freeze, Fall Creek

The transparent ice of the now frozen space retained the impression of movement, the surface rippled by current. In the following photograph, motionless ice crystals reveal the truth.

Ice Crystals on Water Frozen while Supercooled

In the intervening days, the constant motion resisted freezing while the water temperature dropped well past freezing to achieve a supercooled state. As the water temperature continued to drop, a fast transition from fluid to solid happened so quickly the movement of the water surface was preserved.

Ice Crystals on Water Frozen while Supercooled

Here is the matching “after” photograph to the “before” that started this post.

Channel of Water Frozen while Supercooled

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Frozen Fall Creek I

Ice Crystals

Winter Shadows
Ice Crystals
Ice Crystal Macro I
Ice Crystal Macro II
Ice Crystal Macro III
Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Meadow Stream, winter 3

Meadow Idyll

Snow under the gathering light of February, edges rounded by sunlight. Can you identify the animal tracks?

Overflow from a Kettle Pond threads through a meadow before feeding Fall Creek. The O.D.von Engeln Preserve at Malloryville.

All were from a tripod mounted Kodak DSC pro SLR-C with the Canon lens EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Meadow Stream, winter 2

Meadow Idyll

The glacial marls through which this water flows to emerge here clear and pure were under threat from development in the 1980’s and 1990. Thanks to the efforts of the landowner, the uniqueness of this environment was preserved.

The first two photographs are combined and enhanced in photoshop to yield the third, combination, photograph.

Winter Shadows
Winter Shadows

All were from a tripod mounted Kodak DSC pro SLR-C with the Canon lens EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Winter Shadows
Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Meadow Stream, winter

Meadow Idyll

This water emerges from glacial marls, pure and clear, before flowing into a kettle pond. Here we see it on a winter afternoon meandering across a meadow before joining the Fall Creek of the previous postings of this week.

The first two are the same photograph. One has been enhanced in Photoshop. The other was perfected in Lightroom. The third is a different photograph taken about the same time, also peracted in Lightroom.

Winter Shadows
Winter Shadows

All were from a tripod mounted Kodak DSC pro SLR-C with the Canon lens EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

Winter Shadows
Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Ice Bells

Noticing small miracles, taking the time and effort to capture them…..

These icicles were formed along Fall Creek during the coldest months of February in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The transient nature of these forms is suggested by the thinness of the pedicle joining each bell to the ice lobe of the ledge. Note the golden crystals in the ice lobe.

A visualization of the symbolic power of the numeral three, reflected on itself.  Question: what do “threes” mean to you?

Captured with the Sony DSLR-A700, DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 lens, hoya circular polarizing filter, mounted on the Manfrotto tripod with ball head.

Click the photograph for my online gallery Ice Bells listing.

Fall Creek Winter

The magic of ice, water, light

This January 2005 morning dawned cold, the risen sun low to the south of a forested esker ridge, as I suited up for this long planned for photograph.  A Sony DSC-F828, a UV filter and tripod were all I needed to capture this.  That camera model has a integrated flex lens.  I needed to stabilize the lens to achieve this image clarity, depth and sharpness.

The shimmering gloss was achieved by waiting until the sun was above the ridge, shining light shafts through the trees, lighting the water obliquely.

As late as January the stream carries enough heat to create a fog or mist as the air chills after sunset.  This causes twigs to frost up to create those white stick figures on the far bank.  Snowfall from the previous day clings to trees.

Fall Creek freezes from the bottom up.  First the water smoothed boulders accumulate a glaucous ice coat.  Slowly moving water freezes from the edges, in stages, the middle stage an ornate filagree.  The stream narrows downstream where the surface ice first joins.  As the year progresses through February the creek gradually recedes under the ice, replaced by an ice road.

What is an esker ridge?  As the last glaciers melted 10,000+ years ago, the channels carrying meltwater and sediment, under the glaciers, deposited these winding ridged hills.  One of the outcomes was the channel of Fall Creek was altered to flow through the field of eskers among which, in the 19th century, a dam and water mill were created.  It made barrels and furniture.  My former home, in this photograph, was converted from the workshop of that mill.

Ice Bells

Noticing small miracles, taking the time and effort to capture them…..

These icicles were formed along Fall Creek during the coldest months of February in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The transient nature of these forms is suggested by the thinness of the pedicle joining each bell to the ice lobe of the ledge. Note the golden crystals in the ice lobe.

A visualization of the symbolic power of the numeral three, reflected on itself.  Question: what do “threes” mean to you?

Captured with the Sony DSLR-A700, DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 lens, hoya circular polarizing filter, mounted on the Manfrotto tripod with ball head.

Click the photograph for my online gallery Ice Bells listing.