Im talking about Typha latifolia, better known as Reedmace or even Bulrush. You will know it. The reed with its fat brown hot dog sausages poking skyward. And for the record, its NOT a true Bulrush…for you plant geeks out there, that honour goes to Sciripus species which are not as memorable or cute!
Reedmace is a highly vigorous and successful marginal (edge of water) species, it spreads by rhizomes as well as with seed. Its actually classed as invasive, which means its ok to harvest some as it will soon recover and take over the pond if you dont. Luckily, it also tastes great and its seedheads are chock full of high grade protein, and they are in season now. It tastes like buttery sweetcorn and can even be munched on raw, as my son at 6 and a half months old found out at his first meal! The young shoots are good in Spring and the rhizomes at their best in Autumn and Winter. I only wish I had here the classic picture of my wandering mystic, mostly naked friend Tristan eating a pan of these roots in a loincloth, drenched in mud in the middle of winter in our hippy woods camp in Brentford.
It is worth checking however the cleanliness of the water if you are going to harvest roots, as this is where any heavy metals etc could be concentrated, also ask if glyphosate or other herbicide has been used previously.
Here are some recipes others have put up from great foraging site Galloway Wild Foods.
The first is a Dashi broth with spoot clams and reedmace shoots in Spring. the second shows the seedheads coated in beer batter.
Here is my effort for tonight
I scraped the pollen off the heads and mixed with a little garlic oil, a good idea would be to keep the cooking water (forgot to say also cooked the pollen heads for 5 mins or so) as it contains a lot of the lovely flavour as well as nutrients. The flowers are Ox Eye Daisy, a clean tasting wild salad flower in season now, and filling, too!
Also, you can use the dried seed heads later in the year for a torch and the seed down to stuff your pillow and duvet! Whats not to like??
So next time you see conservationists smashing down this plant or god forbid, someone spraying it with toxic vile poisons, spread the word…and the word is GOOD!