Tule Ponds at Tyson

Broad leaved Cattail
Family Typhaceae  (cattail)
Typha latifolia

Cattails are rhizomatous perennial plants with long, slender green stalks topped with brown, cigar-shaped flowering heads.  They have been referred to as the “supermarket of the swamps”.  Flour is obtained from the stems and the pollen. The starchy underwater stems and shoots taste like cucumbers when eaten raw and like cabbage when boiled. The root can be roasted or dried and ground into meal.  New green “cat-tails” can be boiled, buttered and eaten like corn on the cob.  The Ohlone Indians wove floor mats and roofing thatch from the leaves and used the fluff as insulation and absorbent “diaper” material.

Hardstem Bulrush, Native Tule
Family Cyperaceae (sedges)
Scirpus acutus
var. occidentalis

The tall stems of this bulrush are round and bluegreen. The flowers occur in dense spikelets borne at the top of the stem.  The Ohlone Indians bound bundles of tules together to make boats that were used in hunting and fishing along San Francisco Bay.  Air chambers in the hollow stems kept the boats afloat.  Long cylindrical stems from 5 to 8 feet tall leaves have slender, v-shaped blades.  Flowers are arranged as spikelets and resemble orange brown scales,  Reproduction is usually from underground stems. 

Flat Sedge
Family Cyperaceae (sedges)
Cyperus eragrostis

Flat sedges range in height from .4 – 1 meter, and  tolerates pH between 5 and 9.  It is sometimes referred to as umbrella sedge.  It is found close to the water’s edge because it prefers wet soil. This perennial has greenish-yellow flowers are clustered in spikelets borne on round heads.  The stems are slightly triangular in cross section.  It is an invasive native weed.   Flat sedge grows at the edges of  ponds and slow-moving creeks. 

Water Smartweed, Pink flowered knotweed
Family Polygonaceae (buckwheat)
Polygonum coccineum

Smartweed is a perennial that reproduces by seed and by long creeping rhizomes. It produces a deep rose pink flower on a 7 cm long spike from May to November.  The 4 to 14 cm long lanceolate leaf is reddish near the base.  Because it has swollen nodes on the stems, it is sometimes called “knotweed”.   This semiaquatic plant is dormant in winter.

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