Entry Detail

Typha latifolia L.
cattail


Entry Type:  
Species
Scientific Name:  
Typha latifolia L.
Common Name:  
cattail
Myaamia Name:  
apahkwaya
Description:  

Myaamia Archival Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Archival Data Comments
Pease, T. C. and R. C. Werner 1934 Use - Material 

Coverings for dwellings are 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" ("quelques jours apres ces femmes qui restent s'en vont dans des pirogues don’t elles ont jusqu'a trois dans chaques cabanes, couper des joncs don’t ils Couvrent leurs Cabannes, ce sont de ceux qui croissent dans leurs marais qui apportent des quenouilles lesquelles pres avoir oste une peau qui envelope plusieurs brins ensembles ils les font secher au soleil et passent une ficelle qu'ils font de bois Blanc de l'un a l'autre, a dix ou douze endroits de distance d'environ demy pieds, ils en font qui ont jusqu'a dix brasses de longueur, ils appellent cela apacoya, ce n'est pas que ce mot servent seulement a cela, c'est un mot qui est generique pour toutes sortes de couvertures, ils disent de mesme pour des planches, et deux de ces apacoya L'un sur l'autre, metent aussi bien a la pluye que la meilleure couverture, se sont les Cabanes dont ils se servent l'automne et l'hiver, quoy quils quittent leurs pirogues, les femmes les portent sur leurs dos").

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1886-1901 Use - Material 

"As for the [Illinois] women, they work from morning until evening like slaves. It is they who cultivate the land and plant Indian corn, in summer; and, as soon as winter begins, they are employed making mats, dressing skins, and in man other kinds of work, --for their first care is to supply the cabin with everything that is necessary".

Rafert, S. 1989 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. It's edible raw".

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1903 Use - Material 

Cattail mats are coverings for dwellings: "As the Rind of Birch-trees are scarce in this country, they are oblig'd to make their cabins with rushes, which serve as well for covering the same, as for walls. It must be own'd 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".

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1903 Use - Material 

Coverings for dwellings. . " . . . the village of the Illinois, consisting of about 400 cabins cover'd with rushes . . .".

Sabrevois, J. 1718 Related Info 

"This nation [the Potawatomis] makes its cabins of apaquois [mats]; these are made of reeds. All this work is done by the women".

Pease, T. C. and R. C. Werner 1934 Use - Technology 

Cattail mats are used or 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." ("apres quoy sitot qu'il a bouilly un demy quart d'heure, elles l'etendent sur des nattes de jonc qu'elles font aussi de la meme maniere, que ceux don’t elles se servent pour leurs Cabanes").

Kenton, E. 1925 Use - Material 

Cabins [dwellings] are roofed and floored with mats of rushes [cattails].

Kenton, E. 1925 Use - Customs 

Large mats of rushes painted in various colors are spread under trees on which the calumet dance tobacco pipe dance is performed.

Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895 Use - Material 

Mats made from cattail leaves are called "laⁿsúni" and are used for covering lodges: "these mats laⁿsúni serve for thatching lodges. After made into mats, these are called laⁿsúni".

Shea, J.G. 1903 Use - Material 

Cabins were 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".

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1966 Use - Customs 

Cattail mats are used as floor coverings 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" ("on etend une grande natte de joncs peinte de diverses couleurs au milieu de la place; elle sert comme de tapis pour mettre dessus avec honneur le Dieu de celuy qui fait fait la Dance").

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1966 Use - Material 

Cattails are 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" ("Comme le Escorces a faire des Cabbanes sont rares en ce pays la, Ils se seruent de Joncs qui Leur tiennent lieu de murailles et de Couuertures, mais qui ne les deffendent pas beaucoup des vents, et bien moins des pluyes quand elles tombent en abondance. La Commodite de ces sortes de Cabbanes est qu'ils Les mettent en pacquetz et les portent aisement ou ils veulent pendant Le temps de leur chasse").

Thwaites, R.G. (ed.) 1966 Use - Material 

Cattail mats are used for the 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" ( "Comme les Escorces a faire des Cabannes sont rares en ce pays la, Ils se seruent de Joncs qui Leur tiennent lieu de murailles et de Couuertures, mais qui ne les deffendent pas beaucoup des vents, et bien moins des pluyes quand elles tombent en abondance. La Commodite de ces sortes de Cabannes est qu'ils Les mettent en pacquetz et les portent aisement ou ils veulent pendant Le temps de leur chase").

Raudot, A.D. 1904 Use - Material 

The 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".

Tippman, D. 1999 Use - Food 

Jim Strack never used it himself but heard some friends say the shoots could be eaten.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Horticultural Info 

In early spring, you 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 they're old and tend to be wormy".

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Food 

Green [female] flowers and early shoots are eaten.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Customs 

Woven cattails mats are used for covering the wikkiup.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Food 

Cattail roots are eaten.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 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.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Horticultural Info 

Collected in August, when leaves are longer, collect green.

Gonella, M.P 2003-2006 Use - Food 

Cattail roots are harvested in spring, dislodged by the foot and cooked or eaten raw.

Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895 Use - Material 

"The Peorias made a long mat, laⁿsúni, from scirpus [sic] growing in these parts. One of these is a flat scirpus, paxkwayáki, used for thatching lodges".

Trowbridge, C. 1824-5 Use - Material/Technology 

"pauhkwīīyuk, a mat"

Botanical Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Data Comments
Sabrevois, J. 1718 Use - Material

"The Illinois people also make cabins with apaquois, with which they also shelter themselves from rain and snow. They are very clever."

Rafert, S. 1989 Habitat

"Along any of the slower moving streams you'd 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".

Gleason, H.A. and Cronquist, A. 1991 Habitat

Occurs in ponds, marshes, and many other wet areas throughout eastern Myaamia lands.

Related Sources  
Reference Source Reference Type Data Comments
Blair, E 1911  

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".

McPherson, A. and S. McPherson. 1977  

"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".

Kohn, R.W, Lynwood, M.R, Edmunds, D. Mannering, M. 1997  

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 wouldn't leak.

Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895  

"pakwä́nsi" indicating a "small or young reed of the pakwáya reed or flag species".

Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895  

The Miami term "mazaníkani" means tent.

Rafert, S. 1992  

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.

Sabrevois, J. 1718  

Apaquois, the Pottowatomi word for rush.

Dunn, J.P. ca. 1900  

The Miami word "mĭzánĭkanĭ" means fabric of straw or rushes used sometimes to make a tent.