Re: NANFA-- Aquatic Plant Field Guide-Biofiltration

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Thu, 30 Nov 2000 15:41:40 -0500

Keith J Dauzat wrote:

> --- kirk Bailey <>
> > wrote:
> >
> >Hmmm, excellent biotreatment plant for processing waste water. Hmmm...
> >
> >Say, are they edible? OR, do they produce fiber? By chance, are these
> >the humble RUSHES I so fondly remember of my childhood near the wetlands
> >north of Laurence Harbor NJ?
> >
> > -Respectfully,
> > -Kirk D Bailey
> Howdy Bailey,
> Cattails are in fact very edible. Every part of the plant can be used to provide nutrition so long as you harvest during the appropriate part of the year. The seed pouches can be baked. The young stems are sometimes known a Cossack Asparagus. The rhizomes (root-like structures) are not directly edible but can be crushed to collect a starchy material that is said to be quite tasty.
> My botany isn't entirely up to speed but if I remember correctly, a great deal of the biofiltration is provided by the soil (usually a sandy/loamy muck) the plants grow in. Such a filter has been proposed for the Aquarian breakwater before operating in stages with waste water passing through cattails, bullrush, and finally a stand of mangroves. While it should be safe to consume cattails from a greywater treatment system, it would be unwise to do the same with blackwater. Perhaps a system that is fed blackwater might be suitable for jute, kenaf, hemp, or flax but definatly not anything you would eat. You might contact John Wheeler for information on sustainable waste treatment methods for grey and/or blackwater. He is far more knowledgable than I in such matters.
> Finally, I do not believe that cattails are technically rushes but they are no doubt a plant you are familar with. There are two species which are widely distributed across North America. One grows to about 9 feet and the other to about 12 feet. They are the ones you often see in low laying areas such as flood and drainage zones that appear to have frankfurters impaled on their long round stems.
> *Special thanks to Jeffery Fullerton for cross posting from the North American Native Fish Association lists*

I am cross posting this back to NANFA for the value of the information regarding this technology which could solve alot of our waste treatment problems and help improve the quality of our ground water and streams upon which both humans and fishes depend.


> ==
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