As part of our 125th Anniversary celebration at Stein Your Florist Co. we are sharing a year of floral education, November 1, 2012 thru October 31, 2013. Each day we will post something new on our Facebook page to share our knowledge of our favorite things, flowers and plants and we'll be updating our blog every 5 days or so. No need for pencils and notebooks, just sharing some simple lessons in floristry.
Day 356 – For
local tribes around Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia, cattails, or 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.
Day 357 – Cattail
or 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. In 1948, French scientists tested methods for annual
harvesting of the leaves. Because of the high cost these methods where
abandoned and no further research was done. Today Typha is used to make decorative paper.
Day 358 – Cattails
or 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.
Day 359 – The
seed hairs of Cattails, as known as Typha, were used by some Native American
groups 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.
Day 360 – Cattails 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.