Species Detail

Typha latifolia L.
Cattail


Scientific Name:  
Typha latifolia L.
Common Name:  
Cattail
Myaamia Name:  
apahkwaya
Uses:  
Food, Material
Harvest Seasons:  
Undetermined
Habitats:  
Undetermined
Locations:  
Undetermined
Growth Forms:  
Undetermined

Myaamia Archival Sources  
Typha latifolia L.
Reference Source Reference Type Archival Data Comments
No Reference Specified Material  "When all the guests had arrived [Jesuit Sebastian Rales related upon entering an Illinois village] they took their places all about the cabin, seating themselves either on the bare ground or on the mats." A number of other references to mats were those made from cattails. – Michael Gonella
No Reference Specified Use - Material  mats; roof thatching. "The Peorias made a long mat; lasuni; from scirpus [sic] growing in these parts. One of these is a flat scirpus; pakwayaki; used for thatching lodges"
No Reference Specified Use - Material  mats made from cattail leaves are called "lansuni" and are used for covering lodges. "these mats lansuni serve for thatching lodges. After made into mats; these are called lansuni"
No Reference Specified Use - Material  used for making walls and roofs of cabins; easily carried in a bundle while hunting. "As Bark for making cabins is scarce in this county; They use Rushes [sic]; these serve Them for making walls and Roofs; but do not afford them much protection against the winds; and still less against the rains when they fall abundantly. The Advantage of Cabins of this kind is; that they make packages of Them; and easily transport them wherever they wish; while they are hunting"
No Reference Specified Use - Material  coverings for dwellings made from cattails. "Some days after this [after the village sets out on the buffalo hunt; after hilling up their corn at the beginning of June] the women who remain go off in canoes; of which they have as many as three in each cabin; to cut reeds with which they cover their cabins. These are a kind that grow in their marshes. They procure bundles of them; which; after removing a skin that encloses several blades conjointly; they dry in the sun and tie together with twine which they make of white wood; with ten or twelve bands at intervals of about six inches. They make these up to ten fathoms [approximately 20 meters] in length. They call them apacoya; a word which serves not merely to designate these; but which is a generic term for all sorts of coverings. They use the same term for bark boards; and two of these apacoyas; one on top of the other; protect one from the rain as well as the best blanket. These are the cabins which they use in autumn and winter; even if they leave their canoes; the women carry these on their backs"
No Reference Specified Use - Food  "They ate the cattail root; and the shoot. The shoot of the cattail mostly. The early shoots coming up; they ate em raw and they ate them cooked; both [including people of Marks generation];" "I suppose most of the people ate the cattail shoot as cooked. Although they can eat it raw. Its edible raw"
No Reference Specified Use - Material  to use; peel off leaves and split the thick base of the leaves widthwise and place either side on a sinew line and bend over so leaf hangs down for drying--water runs off. They are woven two ways: 1 around parallel stems with sinew or 2 leaves/stems woven for floor mat
No Reference Specified Use - Material  cabins are roofed and floored with mats of rushes [cattails]
No Reference Specified Use - Customs  large mats of rushes painted in various colors are spread under trees on which the calumet dance tobacco pipe dance is done
No Reference Specified Use - Material  coverings for dwellings. "As the Rind of Birch-trees are scarce in this country; they are obligd to make their cabins with rushes; which serve as well for covering the same; as for walls. It must be ownd that these cabins are very convenient; for they take them down when they please; and carry them by small parcels wherever they will; without any trouble"
No Reference Specified Use - Technology  mats for drying corn; at the end of July: "After this; as soon as it has boiled for a few minutes; they spread it on reed mats; which they also make in the same manner as those that serve for their cabins."
No Reference Specified Use - Food  roots eaten
No Reference Specified Use - Food  shoots eaten. Jim Strack never used it himself but heard some say the shoots could be eaten
No Reference Specified Use - Material  cabins made from double mats of rushes. "The greater part of these tribes; and especially the Ilinois; with whom I have had intercourse; make their cabins of double mats of flat rushes sewed together"
No Reference Specified Use - Material/Technology  used to make mats. "pauhkwiiyuk; a mat"
No Reference Specified Use - Material  women "gather reeds in which they sew a twine made of basswood to make a sort of straw mat which covers their cabins. Two; one over the other; shelters them from the greatest rain"
No Reference Specified Use - Material  walls and roof of dwellings. "As bark for making cabins is scarce in this country; they use rushes; these serve them for making walls and roofs [sic]; but do not afford them much protection against the winds; and still less against the rains when they fall abundantly. The advantage of cabins of this kind is; that they make packages of them; and easily transport them wherever they wish; while they are hunting"
No Reference Specified Use - Customs  used as floor covering for a summer calumet dance; for peace; or uniting during time of war; or to honor a Nation or person; where the mats are placed in the shade in the middle of the dance area. "A large mat of rushes; painted in various colors; is spread in the middle of the place; and serves as a carpet upon which to place with honor the God of the person who gives the Dance [see attachment]"
No Reference Specified Use - Material  coverings for dwellings. " . . . the village of the Illinois; consisting of about 400 cabins coverd with rushes . . ."
No Reference Specified Use - Food  root harvested in spring; dislodged by the foot; cooked or eaten raw
No Reference Specified Use - Food  green [female] flowers; early shoots; roots eaten
No Reference Specified Use - Customs  woven into mats for covering wikkiup
No Reference Specified Horticultural Info  Collected in August; when leaves are longer; collect green
No Reference Specified Horticultural Info  In early spring; can harvest early shoots and cook like asparagus; "very good; sweet". Make sure to only get the shoots that are white with a green tip. In late spring can harvest roots; "some as big as your wrist; long as your forearm"; cut up; fry; bake or eat raw. In winter roots can be dug up; "but by then theyre old and tend to be wormy"
Botanical Sources  
Typha latifolia L.
Reference Source Notes Data Comments
No Reference Specified   "The Illinois people also make cabins with apaquois,with which they also shelter themselves from rain and snow. They are very clever."
No Reference Specified   Occurs in ponds; marshes; and many other wet areas throughout eastern and western Miami lands
No Reference Specified   "Along any of the slower moving streams youd find the cattail. There were a lot of wetlands; a lot of em in this country; especially around old burns and where old villages had been. The cattail seed was carried in there by birds and flourished there"
Related Sources  
Typha latifolia L.
Reference Source Notes Data Comments
No Reference Specified   Mats made out of cattail stems; which are stood upright to cover wiikiaami, 250-300 stems used for a six foot long mat; stems wrapped together with cordage
No Reference Specified   Apaquois; Pottowatomi word for rush
No Reference Specified   Rush used for mats; the common cat-tail
No Reference Specified   Hapkwa; Shawnee word for cattail
No Reference Specified   apahkwaya; Fox word for cattail reed and cattail reed mat
No Reference Specified   The Delawares of the past built and lived in little houses out of reeds [cattails] that grow in the lakes. The women would gather them and built the houses; and overlap them so they wouldnt leak
No Reference Specified   McPherson wrote; "The Miami and Potawatomie Indians padded cradles and dressed wounds with cattail down; and used the sturdy leaves to roof the rounded tops of their wigwams"
No Reference Specified   Algonquian women; in general; made the mats for roofing or flooring of dwellings. They also carried these mats when they traveled by foot. "The obligations of women are to . . .make . . . mats of rushes either flat or round; or long to serve as roofing for the cabins or as mattresses. . . . When they are traveling; the women carry the roofing for the cabin; if there is no canoe.
No Reference Specified   Gatschet lists the term "pakwansi" or apahkweenhsa [modern Miami] as indicating a "small or young reed of the pakwaya reed or flag species
No Reference Specified   The Miami term "mazaanikaani" means tent
No Reference Specified   The Miami word "mizanikani" means fabric of straw or rushes used sometimes to make a tent