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Wetland and Aquatic Plants of Oklahoma

Interactive Keys: Emergent


Miscellaneous Grasslike Plants
     A. Flowers with spikes
           1. Sweetflags (Acoraceae)
           2. Cattails (Typhaceae)
      B. Flowers in spathes
           1. Arum (Araceae)
      C. Flowers in dense, round clusters
            1. Bur-reeds
Flowers with two stigmas
Flowers with three stigmas

Flowers in spikes

Sweetflag (Acoraceae)

Sweetflag (Acorus calamus L.) 
Native perennial.
                                                                                                                           Click thumbnails to enlarge

Acorus calamus map                                Acorus calamus

Notes: A key plant in native american ethnobotany and as such it distribution has been affected byà.  Some tribes used it to barter with others.   Regarded by some tribes as a medicianal panacea.  For example, the cheyenne used the plant to treat fever, headaches, as a diuretic, laxative, and in sweat lodge ceremonies.

NWI status: OBL

Cattails (Typhaceae) 

Note: Cattails hybridize readily, complicating identifiaction.  Cattails provide a number of benefits to wildlife; dense growth provides shelter and nesting cover, the dense stems provide breeding areas for fishes, the rhizome provides food for geese, beavers and muskrats.  The cattail borer (Bellura spp.) lays its eggs on cattails which are protected by yellow, scaly covering.  They first feed on leaves, then bore into the stalk with age.  The hollow chamber thus created is filled with silk when the pupation begins.  However, the dense growth of cattails often makes them undesirable because they shade out other plant species. 

Humans have also made extensive use of cattails.  The rhizome and center of the stem can be eaten raw or roasted.  The rhizome can be ground into flour after drying.  The rhizome was also believed to have medicinal properties.  The Cheyenne used cattail root extracts in the treatment of abdominal cramps.  The Delaware  used cattail roots to treat kidney stones.  The Potawatomie treat inflammation.  The Pawnee and Ponca used the down to treat burns.  Many tribes used the down to prevent infant chafing.  Leaves and stems were used in weaving and construction.  The down was used to stuff mattresses, etc. Native Perennial

All cattails have an NWI designation of OBL. 

Broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia L.)
Native perennial.

Typha latifolia map                                          Typha latifolia

Note: There is no gap between the male and female flowers.

Narrowleaf cattail (Typha angustifolia L.) 
Native perennial.

Typha angustifolia map                                  Typha angustifolia

Note: A gap exists between the male and female flowers.  The leaf sheaths have a notch at the top.

Southern cattail (Typha domingensis Pers.) 
Native perennial.

Typha domingensis map                                           Typha domingensis

Note: A gap exists between the male and female flowers.  The leaf sheaths are continuous with the blade.

Flowers in spathes

Arum (Araceae)

Arrow arum (Peltandra virginica (L.) Schott) 
Native perennial.

Peltandra virginica map                                Peltandra virginica

Note: A food plant for the Seminole.

NWI status: OBL 

Flowers in dense, round, clusters

Bur-reed (Sparganiaceae) 

Note: An important cover-forming plant for wildlife species in marshes.  The achenes, or seeds, are eaten by waterfowl and shorebirds.  The base of the plant provide fleshy food for beavers and muskrats.

All bur-reeds have an NWI designation of OBL.

Flowers with two stigmas

Broadfruit bur-reed (Sparganium eurycarpum Engelm. ex Gray)
Native perennial.

Sparganium eurycarpum map                                 Sparganium eurycarpum

Flowers with three stigmas

American bur-reed (Sparganium americanum Nutt.) 
Native perennial.

Sparganium americanum map                                  Sparganium americanum

Note: Fruits are dark brown.

Branched bur-reed (Sparganium androcladum (Engelm.) Morong) 
Native perennial.

Sparganium androcladum map                                      Sparganium androcladum

Note: Fruits are light brown.


Last update: 2/27/04
Comments to : Bruce Hoagland


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