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Typha elephantina - Roxb

Common Name Bora. Elephant grass, Indian reed-mace.
Family Typhaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None Known
Habitats A tropical plant. Riverside thickets[74 ]. Swamps and riversides[266 ]. It grows on the Deccan in India. It grows on the edge of water. It grows in the Sahara and the Sahel. It can grow in salty soils. It can grow in arid places.
Range Asia - Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China (Yunnan), Myanmar; Africa - Algeria to Egypt, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Water Plants Semi-shade Full sun
Typha elephantina Bora. Elephant grass, Indian reed-mace.

Typha elephantina Bora. Elephant grass, Indian reed-mace.
McDougal ardea.com


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Typha elephantina is an evergreen Perennial growing to 3 m (9ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Typha elephantina var. schimperi (Rohrb.) Graebn.;Typha angustifolia Watt. non Linn.;Typha maresii Batt.;Typha schimperi Rohrb.;

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Oil  Pollen  Root  Shoots  Stem
Edible Uses: Oil

Edible Portion: Rhizome, Leaves, Flowers, Pollen, Stems, Roots, Vegetable. This species has the same properties as other Typha species, but it is particularly suitable for exploitation owing to its enormous size[74 ]. The report does not give any other information, but the general uses of other large Typha species are as follows:- Rhizomes - raw or cooked[145 ]. A sweet flavour[105 , 277 ]. Rich in starch, around 30 - 46%, they can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup[172 ]. The rhizome can also be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours. Rich in protein, this flour is used to make biscuits, bread, cakes etc[183 ]. The rhizomes at the base of erect shoots are mostly horizontal, unbranched, up to 70 cm long and 5 - 40mm in diameter. They are starchy, firm and scaly[270 ]. The root contains a lot of fibre[193 ]. One way to remove this fibre is to peel lengths of the root that are about 20 - 25cm long, place them by a fire for a short while to dry and then twist and loosen the fibres when the starch of the root can be shaken out[193 ]. Young shoots in spring - raw or cooked[193 ]. An asparagus substitute. The inner core is eaten[172 ]. The young shoots are cut from the underground stems in the spring when they are about 10 - 40cm long[277 ]. Base of mature stem - raw or cooked. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem. The base of the stem where it attaches to the rhizome can be boiled or roasted like potatoes[277 ]. Young flowering stem - raw, cooked or made into a soup. Tastes like sweet corn[172 ]. Seed - cooked. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, but has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[85 ]. The seeds contain about 18 - 20% oil, of which 69% is linolenic acid[270 ]. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop. Pollen - raw or cooked. A protein rich additive to flour used in making bread, porridge etc[105 , 183 ]. It can also be eaten with the young flowers, which makes it considerably easier to utilize. The pollen is a bright yellow or green colour, and turns pancakes, cookies or biscuits a pretty yellow colour[277 ]. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush[9 ]. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvested[K ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Astringent  Diuretic  Haemostatic  Vulnerary

This species has the same properties as other Typha species, but it is particularly suitable for exploitation owing to its enormous size[74 ]. The report does not give any other information, but the general uses of other large Typha species are as follows:- The leaves are diuretic[218 ]. The pollen is astringent, desiccant, diuretic, haemostatic and vulnerary[176 , 218 ]. It is used in the treatment of nose bleeds, haematemesis, haematuria, uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhoea, postpartum abdominal pain and gastralgia, scrofula and abscesses[176 ]. It is contraindicated for pregnant women[176 ]. The seed down is haemostatic[218 ]. The rootstock is astringent and diuretic[240 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Biomass  Compost  Fibre  Filter  Fuel  Insulation  Oil  Paper  Roofing  Soil stabilization  String  Stuffing  Thatching  Tinder  Waterproofing  Weaving

Agroforestry Uses: The plant's extensive root system makes it very good for stabilizing wet banks of rivers, lakes etc[200 , 418 ]. It can be grown in water purification systems in order to remove various kinds of pollutants from the water and soil. The top growth is removed once or twice during the growing season - it can either be used as a fuel or the materials recovered from it[270 ]. Other Uses: This species has the same properties as other Typha species, but it is particularly suitable for exploitation owing to its enormous size[74 ]. The report does not give any other information, but the general uses of other large Typha species are as follows:- The stems and leaves have many uses, they make a good thatch, being used on roofs, to make walls and floor coverings[13 , 46 , 57 , 61 , 94 , 145 , 257 , 270 ]. They can be used in weaving to make items such as mats, chairs, hats and other handicrafts[13 , 46 , 57 , 61 , 94 , 270 ]. They can be used as a caulking material for barrels, boats etc[270 ]. A fibre obtained from the leaves and stems can be used in making paper[13 , 46 , 57 , 61 , 94 ]. A fibre obtained from the roots can be used for making string[193 ]. The plant produces large amounts of biomass, comparable to the most productive agricultural crops.This is a potential source of energy - it can, for example, be used for alcohol manufacture[270 ]. On a domestic level, the stems make an excellent addition to the compost heap or can be dried and used as a source of fuel etc. The hairs of the fruits are used as a stuffing material for pillows, mattresses, toys etc[46 , 57 , 159 ]. They have good buoyancy properties and have been used in life preservers. They also have excellent insulation properties and have been used in construction[171 , 270 ]. The female flowers make an excellent tinder and can be lit from the spark of a flint[212 ]. The pollen is highly inflammable and is used in making fireworks[115 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Industrial Crop: Biomass  Industrial Crop: Fiber  Management: Hay  Regional Crop

Climate: subtropical to tropical. Humity: aquatic. Succeeds in sun or part shade[200 ]. Grows in boggy pond margins or shallow water to 15cm deep[1 , 200 ]. Requires a rich wet soil if it is to well[200 ]. Tolerates moderate levels of salt[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8[418 ]. The rhizomes of the vigorous species of Typha contain around 30% - 46% starch. The core of these rhizomes can be ground into a flour. One hectare of plants would yield about 7 tonnes of flour per year. This flour would probably contain about 80 % carbohydrates and around 6% - 8% protein. Since these species occur around the world, the plants are a potential source of food for the world's population[277 ]. Seedlings rapidly form clones by means of rhizomes in their first season, flower the second season, and often form very large, persistent, often monospecific stands[270 ]. Unless restrained by some means, such as a large bottomless container, the plant will soon completely take over a site and will grow into the pond, gradually filling it in. It will often form an almost complete monoculture in boggy soil. The dense growth provides excellent cover for water fowl[1 ]. Carbon Farming - Cultivation: regional crop. Management: hay.

Carbon Farming

  • Industrial Crop: Biomass  Three broad categories: bamboos, resprouting woody plants, and giant grasses. uses include: protein, materials (paper, building materials, fibers, biochar etc.), chemicals (biobased chemicals), energy - biofuels
  • Industrial Crop: Fiber  Clothing, rugs, sheets, blankets etc. Currently, almost none of our fiber are produced from perennial crops but could be!
  • Management: Hay  Cut to the ground and harvested annually. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Regional Crop  These crops have been domesticated and cultivated regionally but have not been adopted elsewhere and are typically not traded globally, Examples in this broad category include perennial cottons and many nuts and staple fruits.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - surface sow in a pot and stand it in 3cm of water. Pot up the young seedlings as soon as possible and, as the plants develop, increase the depth of water. Plant out in summer. Division in spring. Very easy, harvest the young shoots when they are about 10 - 30cm tall, making sure there is at least some root attached, and plant them out into their permanent positions.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Anaikkorai, Anaippul, Apu, Berdi, Boj, Bora, Bori, Chamba, Dib, Eenugajammu, Eraka, Ghabajarin, Gond, Googol bon, Gundra, Hagla, Hogla, Jambuhallu, Kundar, Lukh, Mothitrina, Patira, Pitz, Pun, Rambdna, Sako, Shin-mwe-lon, Yira.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Algeria, Asia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Central Africa, Chad, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Iran, Israel, Mali, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, North Africa, Northeastern India, Pakistan, Sahel, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, West Africa, Yemen

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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